Assessing the role of race in quantitative measures of skin pigmentation and clinical assessments of photosensitivity.

Department of Dermatology, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California, USA.
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (Impact Factor: 4.91). 04/2005; 52(4):609-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2004.03.051
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Given the increasing demographic diversity in the United States, clarifying relationships between race, color, ethnicity, and disease processes is critical.
We sought to examine the correlation between objective measures of skin pigmentation, racial identification, and physician-diagnosed and self-reported skin phototypes.
A total of 558 participants (76 nonwhite) were evaluated. A subset underwent spectrometric readings and digital photography of the upper aspect of the inner arm. Self-identified race was compared with 7 measures of pigmentation.
Race correlates best with physician-diagnosed skin phototype (r = 0.55, P < .01), whereas self-reported skin phototype, spectrometry, and colorimetry correlate poorly with race (r = 0.28, < 0.40, and r > -0.31, respectively, P < .01). Associations between race and subjective measures strengthen among patients with darker skin.
Objective measures of pigmentation fail to correlate well with race, whereas race correlates moderately with physician-diagnosed skin phototype. Including objective methods of analyzing skin color may reduce subjective influences of race in assessing photosensitivity and potential risk for skin cancer.

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