What’s a freckle? (Thinkstock)
What’s a freckle?
Lexile

You asked us, what's a freckle?
 
Simply put, freckles are just areas of concentrated pigment. You see, cells in our skin called melanocytes produce melanin, which is the same pigment that colors our hair and eyes, and in some people these cells tend to clump together.
 
Now if we wanted to get our science on, we'd call freckles ephelides. (There are two types of freckles - ephelides and lentigines - this video focuses on ephelides.) I'm going to call them ephelides just because I think the name is kind of pretty.
 
Anyway, no one is born with ephelides; they develop over time as two things come into play.
 
The first factor is genetics. We know that at least one gene is responsible for a speckled appearance and that people with light skin and red hair are more likely to get ephelides.
 
The second key ingredient is sunlight. Exposure to the sun cues the cells to kick into high gear and produce more melanin. The reason is that the pigment both absorbs and reflects the sun's harmful UV rays and protects our DNA from getting damaged and our skin from getting burned.
 
The end result is that existing ephelides darken and new ones pop up, so they are a good indication of whether or not you might be getting too much sun. Trust the ginger on this one.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What is the connection between red hair, freckles and genetics?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (43)
  • shanes1-mur
    3/16/2016 - 03:22 p.m.

    I mean that.... i did not know that there are two different kinds of freckles. Weird.

  • moniqueh1-mur
    3/16/2016 - 03:33 p.m.

    why don't natives have freckles like baligaanaa people????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????huh y not??? u kno wat probably bcuz we all brown......ayyee!!!!!!

  • oliviam-6-bar
    3/16/2016 - 08:22 p.m.

    Genes are responsible for everything in the human body. And "at least one gene is responsible for a speckled appearance and that people with light skin and red hair are more likely to get ephelides." this means people who have ancestors with red hair and light skin are often going to have freckles also.

  • williamb-4-bar
    3/17/2016 - 11:42 a.m.

    With red hair, freckles and your gentics its common to get freckle because of going out into the sunlight because they have such light skin.

  • kalebs-2-nic
    3/17/2016 - 11:59 a.m.

    They are all different ways you can tell someone could get freckles. I have freckles and my mom has freckles but my dad doesn't he also doesn't have blue eyes i think. My mom says i look like my dad but i disagree if i look like anyone it's my brother all i need is a beard then we are twins.

  • matildav-nic
    3/17/2016 - 12:00 p.m.

    The suns rays touches there skin and tends to make them have more. They have light skin so it shows up more. There genetics probably always includes something to do with them.

  • alisha-mur
    3/17/2016 - 04:25 p.m.

    why don't natives get freckles and white people do?

  • billiem-1-bar
    3/17/2016 - 07:32 p.m.

    There is at least one gene that is connected to freckles, and people with red hair and light skin are more prone to have this gene. This makes them more likely to have freckles on their face. I found this article interested because I did not know that the sun gave people more freckles. It makes you think about what kind of damage the sun does to your skin, especially since I live at the beach and I am in the sun all the time.

  • audreyv-4-bar
    3/17/2016 - 07:47 p.m.

    People with red hair are more likely to get freckles than others, because of their genetics. The cells,melanin, that color our skin and freckles also color their hair. I found this article very interesting, because I was unaware that people with red hair and pale skin also had a very good chance of having freckles too.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    3/17/2016 - 08:18 p.m.

    I didn't know that there were different types of freckles. Freckles are areas of compacted pigments. There are some cells in our body called melanocytes which produce melanin. The connection between red hair, freckles, and genetics is that people can get freckles depending on their genes and freckles are more likely to appear to people with red hair and light skin. The pigment melanin can color your hairs and eyes. There are two types of freckles called ephelides and lentigines. Freckles can appear because of genes or due to the amount of sunlight your receive.

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