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Freckles - Cute, But Dangerous

Freckles, once considered a sweet addition to a child's face, are now considered by sun-savvy Australians as the result of too much sun.

While many parents enforce the slip, slop, slap regime on their children, many of the parents themselves were not so lucky, and as a result of many summers in the Australian sun, commonly have severe skin pigmentation as a result.

Skin Pigmentation

According to the Cancer Council, more Australians still die from skin cancer each year than any other country. A lot of it has to do with the nature of skin itself.

The skin protects the body from outside dangers, including the sun and its powerful UV rays. It is made up of Squamous cells, which are the outer-most cells, constantly being rubbed off and replaced, Basal cells, which help to produce more Squamous cells, and Melanocytes. This third and deepest layer produces dark pigments which help to protect the skin.

Unfortunately for many Australians, their skin doesn't produce enough melanin to protect their skin. Over time, some melanocytes may over produce melanin, resulting in irregular skin pigmentation. This can include freckles and moles, some of which can also lead to skin cancer.

Treating skin pigmentation

Laser therapy for skin pigmentation is not only used for aesthetic reasons. It has become an effective and popular way also to remove skin cancers. Using a beam of light, it destroys the cancer cells within the skin. A biopsy before the therapy is important to determine if the cancer has been contained only within the skin, and has not spread to other parts of the body.

Other skin pigmentation, such as birthmarks, can also be treated by laser therapy. For red birthmarks, commonly known as 'port wine' birthmarks, lasers can be especially effective, and can be used at any age. A few treatments will probably be need, though.

Laser resurfacing is particularly good for freckles. Usually performed by a dermatologist, the area is numbed first and then treated. Results vary depending on how many freckles are on the face and how dark they are. The skin will commonly take 1-2 weeks to heal, so treatments are usually spread to allow for this healing time.

Different people have varying pain thresholds, so laser resurfacing is more painful for some people than others. Some equate it to a runner band flicking on the skin.

Costs vary according to the different practitioners, but keep in mind that usually two or more treatments are required. Of course, there are other ways to get rid of freckles in particular. Regularly applying lemon juice is one effective way of naturally bleaching the skin. Also, a simple mask of cucumber, lemon juice, apricots or strawberries can work over time.

A nice addition to a daily face care routine is an equal parts mixture of parley, lemon, orange and red currant juices. Use it before applying your daily face cream. Prevention is always better than a cure, so to make sure no new freckles appear, always wear a hat and sun screen with a minimum SPF of 15+.

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