Skin

19 November 2007

Why your skin is the colour it is

We’re all the same under the skin. But why is it that people from Europe, Asia and Africa all have skins of different colours?

0
We’re all the same under the skin. But why is it that people from Europe, Asia and Africa all have skins of different colours?

Melanocytes, which produce the skin pigment melanin, make up 10 percent of the cells in the basal layer of the epidermis, the primary layer of the skin.

The cells pass the melanin to the other cells of the epidermis, through tendril-like branches. They look like veins in a leaf.

Melanin collects in granules under the skin and protects it from harmful ultraviolet light. It’s the amount of melanin in your skin that determines your skin colour. Ebony-skinned women of Negroid origin have the greatest amount of melanin, while the skin of redheaded, pink-skinned women of Celtic origin has the least.

The pinkish colour is simply the haemoglobin – in red blood cells – showing through the skin.

Carotene is a yellow pigment that accumulates in the skin. In mongoloids or southern caucasoids (to you and me, that’s people of Mediterranean, Arabian, Indian and South American origin) it gives the skin a yellowish tinge.

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

This forum is closed until further notice.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules