In 2019, a viral debate circulated around the internet about whether women have a matching freckle on their wrists. The origin of the myth seems to be traced back to a Tweet where one user asks other women if they have the same freckle.

Since the Tweet was first posted in 2019, it has received more than 40,000 retweets and comments.

Although it may make for a fun internet debate, there’s actually a fairly simple explanation for why many men and women have a freckle in this location. Freckles are caused by sun exposure, and unlike most of your body, your hands are rarely covered by clothing. It’s also a common spot people skip when applying sunscreen.

Let’s examine how freckles form, when they should be a cause for concern, and how they can be removed.

Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its color. Freckles are caused by an increased production of melanin. They commonly develop in parts of your body frequently exposed to sunlight, like your hands and face.

Even though nobody is born with freckles, your genetics play a large role in determining how prone you are to developing them. People with light skin or red hair are especially prone to developing freckles.

Freckles are also called ephelides or solar lentigines. Both types of freckles look similar but develop in different ways.

Ephelides are largely genetically determined and usually appear in early childhood from sun exposure. Solar lentigines are typically larger than ephelides, have a brown color, and have a clearly defined edge. They commonly appear after the age of 40 as a result of sun exposure and are also known as age spots or liver spots.

In a 2013 study published in the Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, researchers examined the frequency of solar lentigines and facial freckles in 523 middle-aged French women.

The presence of facial freckles was associated with sunburn frequency, as well as the presence of certain variations of the MC1R gene common in people with fair skin or red hair. Ephelids were more commonly seen in people who also had freckles, had a limited ability to tan, were frequently exposed to sun, or were currently taking an oral contraceptive or progesterone treatment. Solar lentigines were more common in people with darker skin tones who tanned easily and reported significant sun exposure.

You can prevent freckles from forming on your wrists and forearms by limiting sun exposure and wearing sunscreen regularly.

The sun is generally strongest between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s especially important to limit sun exposure during this time. If you do have to be out, wear clothes that protect your skin from dangerous ultraviolet rays and apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Most of the time, freckles aren’t dangerous. However, it’s a good idea to monitor all new skin spots for the ABCDEs of melanoma.

If you answer yes to any of the following question, you should have a medical professional examine your freckle.

  • Asymmetrical. Is your freckle asymmetrical or does it have an irregular shape?
  • Border. Does your freckle have a raised edge or uneven border?
  • Color. Is your freckle made up of multiple colors or shades of colors?
  • Diameter or darkness. Is your freckle larger than a pencil eraser or darker than other skin spots?
  • Evolving. Is your freckle getting bigger or becoming more elevated?

Most freckles are harmless, but some people chose to remove freckles for cosmetic reasons. Methods of removal include:

  • Cryosurgery. Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze abnormal skin cells. It’s generally safe and rarely causes scarring.
  • Laser treatment. A 2015 study found that three sessions of laser therapy lightened more than 50 percent of freckles in 62 percent of participants.
  • Topical retinoid cream. Retinoid cream is often used to target sun damage and other signs of aging like wrinkles.
  • Chemical peels. Chemical peels use a chemical solution to exfoliate your skin and get rid of damaged skin. It can take up to 2 weeks to heal.

Bleaching cream is another treatment sometimes used to remove freckles. Many bleaching creams are thought to suppress the production of the pigment melanin by melanocytes that give freckles their color. However, the FDA warns against using bleaching creams or bleaching injections, since they can contain potentially unsafe ingredients.

It’s a myth that all women have a freckle on their wrist. Many people have freckles on their face or hands because these body parts are commonly exposed to sunlight. People with fair skin or red hair are more genetically prone to developing freckles.