Mole Vs. Freckle: What’s The Difference?

Often, we use the words moles and freckles interchangeably. Yet, these skin lesions differ from each other.

What Is A Mole?

A mole is a raised or flat skin lesion in your skin that comes in pigmented brown or black color. It can appear anywhere in the body, whether alone or in a group. It starts to show during childhood and adolescence, but adults can still grow some moles.

According to MayoClinic, moles may change in appearance or completely fade over time. Anyone can have more than 40 moles. Yet, checking these for any change in pigmentation or color is a must to rule out serious skin conditions.


  • Regular and Symmetrical

Regular mole is a skin growth that has the following characteristics: a well-defined regular border, a size of a pencil eraser, and has the same color. Hair can also grow from a mole which is harmless most of the time.

  • Irregular

This also known as an atypical mole because of its usual asymmetrical shape accompanied by irregular borders, multiple colors, and bigger than a pencil eraser. Unlike the regular type, most irregular moles are flat or almost flat. According to MedicineNet, if you have more than 25 irregular moles, you have an increased chance of melanoma (a skin cancer).

  • Cancerous

This type of mole is often called melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer caused by the mutation of pigment-producing cells that divide rapidly and out of control. It can be an existing mole that underwent change or a new mole growth. Cancerous moles are quite similar to the appearance of irregular moles, except that the symptoms are twice as visible as the latter. A cancerous mole is highly irregular, actively evolving and bigger than the other types of moles.

How Do You Develop Moles

  • Genes

A similar number, color, and shape of moles occur in individuals from different generations of family. Therefore, there is a tendency that moles are inherited. Nonetheless, there is no well-established study regarding the inheritance pattern.

  • Sun Exposure

Moles that did not emerge during childhood and adolescence are most likely caused by sun exposure. These moles usually occur in parts of the body that are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and the longer you expose yourself to the sun, the more moles you may develop.

  • Pregnancy

During pregnancy, moles tend to grow bigger and becoming darker due to hormonal changes. Fortunately, these changes are usually harmless. Moles in the face, thighs, breasts, and armpits are prone to changes.

What Is A Freckle?

Freckles are flat tan or light brown spots in the skin, and in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun. MedicineNet described that these are most common among red-headed and poorly pigmented people. What good about freckles is that you do not have to see them all the time because they tend to fade during winter.

Though freckles are less like to develop into skin cancer, keep an eye on the unusual appearance of freckles because it indicates an unusual skin condition.


  • Ephelides

If you are a person who does not care about UV rays then you are most likely to get this type of freckles. They may show up on your upper body such as the face and even at the back of your hand. Though anyone can have these freckles, ephelides commonly appear on people with lighter hair color and skin tones.

  • Lentigines

Unlike ephelides, these freckles usually occur in people who tan easily or have naturally dark skin. These are also called solar lentigines because it arises due to extended sun exposure and does not fade in winter. Lentigines are flat brown lesions, but in some cases, they may come up with a dry or slightly scaly surface.

How Do You Develop Freckles

  • Genetics

Freckles like to run in families, especially those with fair skins. This happens because they have lesser melanin that protects the skin from sun damage.

  • Sun Exposure

Freckles are sometimes confused as a sign of sun damage to the skin, but there are not. It is a reaction of the skin when UV rays hit the skin, but can totally fade away when the cold season sets in. People with freckles are more sensitive to the sun compared.

Removal and Prevention

Even though moles and freckles are commonly harmless and do not require treatment, some find it disturbing, especially when it appears on the visible parts of the face. The use of sunscreen is the number one prevention against forming new moles or freckles. However, if you decide to have them remove totally from your skin, you may consider the following:


Below are three of the removal process that can be done but only by a doctor:

  • By Burning. This process involves burning the upper layers of the skin through an electric current that passes through a hot wire.
  • By Cutting. Depending on how the mole is attached to the skin, the doctor will have to make a deep cut to remove the entire mole from underneath to make sure it will not grow back. This will require stitches and may require some time to heal.
  • By Freezing. This removal requires the use of liquid nitrogen. The doctor will dab or spray a small amount of the said liquid directly to the mole, which can leave a blister afterward. The blister will heal on its own but will take some time.


  • Laser Treatment. This removal treatment involves the use of intense pulse light targeting the damaged skin. Scientific studies show that among other treatments, the laser treatment is proven effective and can lighten freckles to more than 50% if cannot remove totally.
  • Fading Cream. This topical application is also known as bleaching cream which aims to get rid of the freckles by lightening or whitening the affected skin. However, some skin reactions may arise due to allergy or excessive use of topical hydroquinone that can be found in fading cream. These include dryness, burning sensation, blistering, and skin discoloration.
  • Retinoid Cream. This topical cream does not only remove freckles but also prevents freckles to form. Credit goes to the Vitamin A compound found on this cream that helps the skin absorb UV radiation.
  • Natural Remedies. If you are conscious to use the first 3 treatments, you may opt to take chance from using natural remedies that are safer yet may require more time before you can see a satisfying result. These include rubbing the target skin with lemon juice, buttermilk, yogurt, and honey.

Your Takeaway

Moles and freckles are both skin growth but differ from each other to some extent. While moles can develop into serious skin conditions such as cancer, most freckles do not. Moles are often raised but can also be flat like freckles. Freckles can also disappear during winter while moles stay throughout. Both are developed through genetic and sun exposure.

Because of technological advances, moles and freckles can already be removed or lightened. Nonetheless, if your mole or freckle does not do harm to your body, it is very much safer to let it be.

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