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Freckles and moles

melanin; sunscreen; freckle; mole; skin; birthmark; sunburn; sun; puberty; skin cancer ;


What are freckles?

If you are very fair skinned or you have red hair you are likely to have freckles or 'sun kisses' as they are sometimes called.

They are really little spots of melanin in your skin, which become darker than the skin around them and are more obvious during summer.

Freckles are not dangerous. They do not change into skin cancers, but they can be a sign that your skin is getting damaged by being in sunshine too much. Have a look at the topic Sunburn to be sure you know how to protect your skin.

How to avoid getting freckles

How many freckles you get depends on the skin type you have inherited. Some families get only a few or no freckles, while members of other families may get hundreds or thousands even when they take very good care of their skin.

You may be able to get fewer freckles if you:

  • be very careful in the sun, as you are more likely to burn very easily (as well as get more freckles). People with lots of freckles often have pale skin - which burns quickly.
  • always wear sunscreen. Make it part of your day to put on the sunscreen in the morning, before lunch and after school.
  • wear a hat and clothes that cover your skin.

sunburnStaying out of the sun and not getting a tan is the cool way to go anyway. Sunbathing damages your skin and you get wrinkles too!

In great grandma's time they used this recipe to try and fade freckles out (but it probably doesn't work).

  • Get the juice of half a lemon.
  • Wipe the juice onto your freckles, using a cotton wool ball.
  • Do this twice a day for several weeks.
  • Stay out of the sun.

frecklesThe surface of your freckles may look a bit lighter if you use grandma’s recipe, but the most important part is staying out of the sun.

Some freckles can look quite big and dark so look at them carefully. They may not be freckles at all. They might be moles.


If you've got the fairer sort of skin
Wear a hat 'til the sun goes in.
Stay out of sun whenever you can.
Freckles won't join hands to make a tan!



molesMost people have moles somewhere on their bodies.

Some moles appear when you're born and are called birth marks. Not all birthmarks are moles.

Some birthmarks fade away after a few years but others may last all your life. Some moles will come as you get older.  They can be on parts of your skin that did not have a mole before.

If you have a birthmark in a place that can be seen, or which is worrying you, your doctor or skin specialist could check it for you, and might be able to remove it.

If you cannot have the mark treated or removed then you may be taught how to disguise it with a special kind of make-up.

Puberty is the time when many moles make their appearance.

  • pubertyThey are usually brownish to brownish-black, although they can be skin coloured or blue-black.
  • They can be single or in a group.
  • They may seem smooth or 'warty' looking
  • At first they are flat but as you grow they may get bigger and some may grow hairs.
  • Sometimes they slowly fade and go away.
  • Some moles can change as you grow older, or even disappear, (elderly people have fewer moles than young people).

In sunny countries like Australia there is a higher risk of skin cancer. Most types of skin cancer do not start in moles, but some cancers do.

Have mum or dad do a 'mole patrol' from time to time. You can encourage them to check their own moles too.

What you are looking for

  • Check to see where your moles are.
  • Make a note of what they look like.
  • Keep a 'map' of your moles, then you can tell if a new one has appeared, or if one has gone away.
  • Measure them if they are large.
  • Note the shape and colour of any larger moles.
  • If moles change in size or colour or begin to itch or bleed then it's important to have your doctor join in your 'mole patrol'.
  • Some doctors have a special machine called a 'Molemax,' which will take computer pictures of your body and store them. Then you return for regular mole patrols and the machine will note if there is any change in the moles you had and whether any moles have appeared or disappeared.

You can also:

  • remember to wear a shirt. (Polo shirts are good because the collar protects your neck and the sleeves are usually past your elbow.)
  • wear sunscreen
  • stay in the shade when possible, especially during summer
  • wear a hat
  • use zinc cream on any moles not covered by your clothes.

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim Whatever your skin colour, you need to protect your skin.

Don't worry if you have moles. Having moles does not mean that you will get skin cancer. Mole patrols help you to be aware of your skin. Because the sun's rays could be harmful, it is up to you to look after your skin. After all you're going to spend all your life together.

If you want to start mole patrols, print off the diagram below to help you get started.

Mole Patrol Diagram

front of body       back of body

Did you know?

  • Moles have often been thought to be a sign of beauty!
  • 300 years ago fashionable ladies would put false moles or patches onto their faces or shoulders.
  • Famous actresses, like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor had a mole or 'beauty spot' on their faces. They started a fashion trend of 'painted on moles' in the 50's when girls would carefully practise putting a 'mole' near the mouth or eye, wherever they considered would make them look more attractive.
  • In the even older 'olden' days, fashionable ladies and gentlemen also painted or stuck on 'moles' or little patches to make them look more beautiful. (A bit like some kids today who stick tiny stickers of stars or glittery shapes onto their faces.)
Moles are big, moles are small.
Don't forget to do the mole patrol.
With a mole over here and a mole over there
Moles can be just anywhere.

By Dani and Sophi
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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