Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Skin Color

Skin Pigmentation

Skin pigments are what determine the color of the skin. There are five major skin pigments, "melanin," "melanoid," "keratin," "hemoglobin," and "oxyhemoglobin." All of these skin pigments present at different levels in terms of the places where they are found in skin. While all these five skin pigments are important in determining the color of the skin, melanin remains the primary cause of skin color.

(Saharan African, Indian, Southern European, Northwest European)

  • The causes of the variation in skin is not certain, but it is arguable to be caused by genetics.
  • Skin color ranges from almost black to white due to blood vessels underneath


Melanin is the primary cause in determining the color of skin. It is found in hair, pigmented tissues underlying the iris of the eye and the inside of the ear. Melanin is triggered by enzymes that cause it to create the color of skin, eyes and hair shades. It is brown in color and appears in the epidermis.

Pigmented melanoma 

Other Skin Pigments

I will only briefly introduce the other four skin pigments as they are not as important as melanin

  • Melanoid- similar to melanin but is present diffusely throughout the epidermis
  • Keratin- yellow to orange in color and is present in the fat cells of dermis (second layer of skin)
  • Hemoglobin- found in blood and develops a purple color, but it is not a pigment
  • Oxyhemoglobin- also found in blood and is not a pigment of skin but it develops a red color

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