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Fitzpatrick skin phototype

Author: Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2012.

The classification known as the Fitzpatrick skin type (or phototype) depends on the amount of melanin pigment in the skin. This is determined by constitutional colour (white, brown or black skin) and the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (tanning). Pale or white skin burns easily and tans slowly and poorly: it needs more protection against sun exposure. Darker skin burns less and tans more easily. It is also more prone to develop postinflammatory pigmentation after injury (brown marks).

Skin typeTypical FeaturesTanning ability
I Pale white skin, blue/green eyes, blond/red hair Always burns, does not tan
II Fair skin, blue eyes Burns easily, tans poorly
III Darker white skin Tans after initial burn
IV Light brown skin Burns minimally, tans easily
V Brown skin Rarely burns, tans darkly easily
VI Dark brown or black skin Never burns, always tans darkly

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