Understanding Damage from Sunlight and Advances in Sun Protection - Episode 2

Skin Damage in Light-Skinned Individuals Compared With Individuals With Skin of Color

Susan Taylor, MD, FAAD, compares how skin damage can occur in individuals with skin of color compared with individuals with light skin.

Susan Taylor, MD, FAAD: DNA damage differs from individuals with lighter skin tones, as opposed to individuals with darker skin tones. Individuals with lighter skin tones sustain damage from ultraviolet light throughout the entire epidermis. We know that they’re more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. On the other hand, individuals with darker skin tones have more melanin in their skin, particularly eumelanin and that is going to allow for minimal damage of those individuals by the sun, particularly in the upper layers of their epidermis. Also, individuals with darker skin tones have greater DNA repair capabilities, so they’re less likely because of the melanin and repair capabilities to develop skin cancer so they’re less likely to have a sunburn. But those individuals with darker skin tones are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation from visible light as well as UV-A1 and that melanin that is contained in their skin becomes very reactive. This can help lead to disorders like melasma.

Transcript Edited for Clarity