Freckles and moles are areas of increased pigment (melanin) in the skin, but they're not the same thing. Melanin is a natural substance that gives colour to hair, skin, and the iris of the eye, and it serves to protect the skin against UV radiation. Freckles are caused by increased pigmentation in the top layer of the skin (epidermis). Freckles are small and flat, and usually develop in childhood as a result of exposure to the sun, and are more frequently found on people with light skin and fair hair. It’s rare for freckles to develop into skin cancer. However, because freckles are especially common in people who have light skin (having light skin that burns easily increases the risk of skin cancer), sun protection is particularly crucial. Moles can be present at birth and are made up of groups of pigmented cells. Moles vary in size, can appear as flat or raised and are usually dark brown in colour.
They often become more prominent with age. Moles may also darken with repeated sun exposure or as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy. Moles rarely become cancerous - although it’s more common for moles than freckles to become malignant. If you spot any changes (size, shape, colour, sensation), consult your doctor.