How well do you know your skin? Get real world answers from our in-house skin expert as he tells us why the Fitzpatrick Skin Scale is an important system!
Dr Pravin Banodkar
Q. What are the different types of skin colours?
Skin color is determined by the amount and type of the pigment melanin in the skin.
Human skin color can range from dark to nearly colourless (appearing pinkish white due to the blood in the skin) in different people.
Q. What is the Fitzpatrik Skin System?
The Fitzpatrick scale is a numerical classification schema for human skin color that estimates the response of different types of skin to ultraviolet (UV) light. It is as follows:
- Type I(scores 0–6) always burns, never tans (pale white; blond or red hair; blue eyes; freckles).
- Type II(scores 7–13) usually burns, tans minimally (white; fair; blond or red hair; blue, green, or hazel eyes)
- Type III(scores 14–20) sometimes mild burn, tans uniformly (cream white; fair with any hair or eye color)
- Type IV(scores 21–27) burns minimally, always tans well (moderate brown)
- Type V(scores 28–34) very rarely burns, tans very easily (dark brown)
- Type VI(scores 35–36) Never burns, never tans (deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown)
Q. What does your skin colour have to do with ageing?
Exposure to UV light is thought to account for the majority of age-related changes seen in elderly skin, and it has been estimated that up to 80% of facial ageing is attributable to sun exposure. The process of ageing is heavily influenced by the level of skin pigmentation. The current Fitzpatrick skin type classification can be used to predict skin sensitivity to UV light.
Chronic sun exposure in individuals with lightly pigmented skin (phototypes I and II) will produce earlier and more pronounced signs of skin ageing, including atrophy, wrinkling and sagging of facial skin, telangiectasia and pre-malignant lesions such as actinic keratoses.
Signs of photodamage are seen in those with more darkly pigmented skin (phototypes IV–VI) but usually occur at a later age and more commonly involve irregular pigmentation or uneven skin tone.
Q. How does the skin tan, and what reactions occur on my skin?
Skin tans due to the leakage of melanin pigment from cells called melanocytes present in the skin.
This causes pigmentation darkening following ultraviolet and infrared ( heat based ) radiation.
The reactions seen on the skin include redness, burning , itching , peeling of the skin due to excessive sun damage and this can be followed by increased pigmentation on the skin.
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