The Odd Body Explained

8. Is it true that all babies are born without a single freckle?

Babies, of course, can be born with birthmarks and "beauty marks," but it's true that upon entering the world they have no freckles, which the skin produces (using excess pigment) in response to sun exposure. As babies get out in the sun, those with fair complexions and light eyes will be especially prone to developing freckles (and will have a higher likelihood of skin cancer and melanoma later in life).

"Those freckles on the redheaded kid's cheeks aren't cute -- they're sun damage," says Robin Ashinoff, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center. "And freckles probably also indicate damage to the DNA in your skin cells."

Children and adults alike should have their freckles monitored regularly by a dermatologist and vigilantly use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.

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More from Prevention:

Curious About Your Other Body Oddities?

Tips for Aging Beautifully

Keep Your Body Feeling Fabulous

Best Natural Healers

9. What causes the feeling of "pins and needles"?

Called paresthesia, pins and needles are caused by blocked blood flow to a pressed nerve. If you sit too long in an awkward position - -or even just with your legs crossed -- you may press hard enough on a nerve to interrupt its signaling to the brain, causing your feet, for example, to "fall asleep," or go numb.

This is not the same as a pinched nerve, a longer-lasting condition that occurs when a part of the body, swollen because of injury or misalignment, applies steady pressure on a nerve.

Paresthesia is usually felt in the extremities -- hands, feet, and ankles. That crazy-making prickly sensation is the resumption of pain messages to the brain. Simply changing your position is almost always enough to allow the nerve to resume communication. But prickly feelings more rarely can be symptoms of diseases as diverse and serious as diabetes, lupus, and MS. If your pins and needles don't resolve quickly with a change of body position, see a doctor.



10. Why are there rings or halos around lights when you drive at night?

This phenomenon falls under the category of "spherical aberration" -- just one of several examples of how the human eye is optically imperfect. In daylight, the pupil narrows to a very small opening, allowing light to hit the very center of the lens. At night, when the pupil dilates dramatically to allow maximum light to enter, your eye is using a much larger swath of its lens to see.

"The farther out on the lens you go, the less perfect the optics are," says Duffner. "And as you get off center, those light rays won't be focused to the center of the eye."

You see circles, well, because your lens is round. Almost everyone sees these rings, and if you've always seen them, you're probably just fine, he says. But halos can also be caused by opacities in the lens -- a sign of cataracts. So if seeing halos is new to you, see a doctor for a cataract exam.

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More from Prevention:

Curious About Your Other Body Oddities?

Tips for Aging Beautifully

Keep Your Body Feeling Fabulous

Best Natural Healers

11. Can "cankles" actually be good for you?

Maybe. Scientists haven't studied the significance of ankle shape, but other research on fat distribution may point to an answer.

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