Recently, through the connections of social media, a woman noticed she and many others have a freckle located in the center of their wrist. Although it began as a humorous joke, when more and more women started noticing a small dot in a similar location, questions started to arise.
We don’t want to burst your bubble, but there is an explanation for this phantom freckle. And no - it’s not aliens. Why do so many have the wrist freckle? And more importantly, when it is time to see a dermatologist?
MYTH: All women have a “wrist freckle” on the dorsal surface of their wrist.
BUSTED: The pigmented lesion can easily be explained by sun exposure.
First things first, not all of these spots are the exact same. The “freckle", which many are finding on the dorsal surface of their wrist, is scientifically called a pigmented skin lesion. This encompasses all colored skin patches, whether it’s a freckle, mole, sun spot , birth mark, etc.
It's showing up in similar locations due to the high amount of sun exposure the wrist receives. An increase in sun exposure is linked to an increase in pigmented skin lesions. The wrist is often uncovered, making it a likely area for spots to pop up. Dr. Stacy Smith, MD explains the process: “Pigmented lesions often occur as a response to sun exposure – the skin is trying to “cover up’ and protect itself but does so in an uneven fashion.“
While the commonality of the dark spot is being seen as humorous, it gives us an opportunity to shed light on a serious topic - skin cancer. Some dark spots can be diagnosed as melanomas, which is the dangerous form of skin cancer. Early detection is key to boosting survival rates for melanoma. Dermatologists urge patients to continuously self-check their freckles, moles and all pigmented lesions by putting them through the ABCDE test:
Asymmetry - Are both sides of the mole symmetrical?
Border Irregularity - Are the borders of the mole well defined?
Colors - Is the mole the same color throughout?
Diameter - Is the mole 6mm or less? (Approximately the size of a pencil eraser.)
Evolving - Has the mole stayed the same overtime?
If you answer “no” any of these questions, you should see a dermatologist to confirm that the mole is benign (not cancerous).