While almost all people use these two words interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between them.
These are induced by sun exposure, causing your melanocytes (pigment-making cells) to transfer pigment to the top layers of the skin. This results in changes to the skin color (pigmentation) to appear. These can appear any time and on almost any part of the body. Freckles on the other hand, usually fade in the winter months and can be treated with lasers. While freckles are a sign of sun damage to the skin, they have no known ability to cause skin cancer. We do however know that patients with extensive freckling are at a higher risk of developing melanoma/skin cancer.
Moles (Melanocytic Nevi)
Moles tend to appear in childhood and increase with aging. These are pigment making cells that group and can appear anywhere on the skin. Patients with lighter skin types typically have more moles. Moles are typically darker than freckles and do not disappear; although they can get lighter as you get older. It is important to continually monitor your moles for changes, as these could be signs of melanoma. Your dermatologist can evaluate your moles to ensure it is a healthy mole or something more serious.
Identifying the different between a mole and a freckle can be very difficult if you’re not a trained dermatologist. Everyone should always have an annual exam with their dermatologist to monitor their skin health.