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Why do some people get freckles when it’s sunny? © Getty Images

Why do some people get freckles when it’s sunny?

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You can blame that pesky MC1R gene.

Asked by: Samantha Goodwin, Liverpool

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When your skin is exposed to UVB radiation in sunlight, specialised cells called melanocytes produce the dark pigment melanin to protect the skin. Usually this melanin is produced evenly and results in a tan, but some gene variants, such as the MC1R gene that results in red hair, cause the melanocytes to overproduce melanin granules. This creates little pigment clusters that get darker in sunlight.

What causes freckles on the human body? © Getty Images

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Authors

luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.

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