Dear Dr. EmsanaCare. What’s a freckle?

A freckle is a small, flat, red to brown spot on the nose or other sun-exposed area. Freckles occur most often in those with lighter skin tones and blond or red hair. Freckles are usually harmless.

Dear Dr. EmsanaCare. Is a freckle a sign of sun damage?

Freckles develop when you’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. And during these long days, we’re all exposed to too much sunshine. While there’s no need to treat a freckle, it’s a good idea for everyone to limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen.

And the sun can prematurely age the skin in other ways as well. This is called photoaging and results in redness, roughness, dark/age spots and sagging, wrinkled skin. Everyone knows that too much sun can cause sunburn, regardless of your skin shade. But even without sunburn, exposure to the sun can cause early aging of the skin.

Dear Dr. EmsanaCare. Do I need to see my doctor about my freckle?

First, it’s always wise to routinely discuss your health concerns with your primary care physician(PCP). Also, think about seeing your PCP if you notice changes in your skin, things like enlarging freckles or moles, unusual patches or changes in coloration. And your PCP may refer you to a dermatologist, a specialist in skin disorders.

Dear Dr. EmsanaCare. Why do I need to see a dermatologist? And what is a dermatologist, anyway?

A dermatologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in treating conditions like acne, eczema, hair loss, and skin cancer. Becoming a dermatologist requires 3 years of post-medical school training focused on conditions of the skin, nails and hair.

In addition, the top-rated dermatologists recommended by EmsanaCare Connectors will have passed the rigorous exam that’s required by the American Academy of Dermatology to become board certified. Also, they’re likely a doctor who received high praise from Boeing members like you. If your PCP has recommended that you see a dermatologist, it’s possibly because you have a skin condition that

  • Is difficult to diagnose
  • Has not responded to treatment
  • May be a form of skin cancer.

Also, dermatologists are experts at delaying the aging effects of sunlight, a major concern for those living where the “sun shines bright.” So, the next time you’re wondering about a freckle, say, “Doc, does this look like a freckle,” to your PCP and they may recommend you see a dermatologist.

Dear Dr. EmsanaCare. What’s the one step I should take every day to fight skin aging?

A bottle of sunscreen SPF 30

Here are five key steps to take.

5. Don’t smoke. This will help reduce your risk of many types of cancer, while retarding wrinkled, leathery skin.

4. Keep your showers short to kill two birds with one stone. Help the drought while preventing the shower water from drying out your skin. And hot water that stings can further damage your skin.

3. Moisturize. As soon as you towel off, use moisturizer to seal moisture into your skin.

2. Minimize sun exposure. Seek the shade and wear a broad-brimmed hat, UV-protective clothing and sunglasses when outside. And avoid direct sun exposure whenever possible. Don’t even think about recreational suntanning or tanning beds.

And number 1, if you are going to be outside for more than a few minutes …

1. Apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater and reapply as per label, usually every 2 hours. Especially if sweating or swimming!

See additional resources below to learn more about common skin problems.