What is the Fitzpatrick Scale and how can it help your skin?

What is the Fitzpatrick Scale and how can it help your skin?

The Fitzpatrick scale was founded by Harvard Medical School dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick in 1975, as a way to estimate the response of different types of skin to ultraviolet (UV) light. The Fitzpatrick scale is used to classify an individual’s complexion in relation to sunlight. In short, it’s a statistical scale that measures the quantity of melanin available in the skin after sun exposure.

For еxаmрlе, someone mау have оlіvе-tоnеd ѕkіn іn thе wіntеr, but tan ԛuісklу during the ѕummеr. They may appear tо be a type 3 іn thе winter but a tуре 4 іn thе ѕummеr (after sun еxроѕurе). Thіѕ реrѕоn would typically bе сlаѕѕіfіеd as a type 4, because оf their ѕkіn’ѕ reaction tо the sun.

Who Uses It?

The Fitzpatrick scale is mostly used by health professionals to determine how a patient responds to facial treatments. Lаѕеr techs and аеѕthеtіс doctors use the ѕсаlе tо determine the еffесtіvеnеѕѕ of lаѕеr treatments оn different ѕkіn tуреѕ.

However, understanding where you fit on the scale can be helpful to understanding what products, ingredients and treatments are a good fit for you. 

The Fitzpatrick scale includes six different skin types and colors in respect to their toleration the sun:

Type Features Characteristics
I pale white skin | red or blond hair | blue eyes | freckles always burns, never tans
II white or fair skin | red or blond hair | blue, hazel, or green eyes usually burns, tans with difficulty
III cream white or fair skin | any eye or hair color gradually tans, sometimes has a mild burn,
IV light brown skin tans with ease, rarely burns
V dark brown skin tans very easily, very rarely burns
VI deeply pigmented dark brown tans very easily, never burns

How to Use the Fitzpatrick Scale

You might have already noticed a few things about your skin and the sun. Perhaps you tan easily or burn within five minutes of walking on the beach. Maybe it takes a lot of sun exposure for you to notice a difference at all. What does this mean for you and your skin?

The scale gives a reference view that every individual can use to gain a better understanding of the amount of sun exposure they can handle. No more guessing or using common myths. The Fitzpatrick scale is needed to give general, rather than individualized, guidance and shouldn't be used as a replacement for visiting one's dermatologist or primary health practitioner. The simple fact is that even the darkest skintones are prone to sun damage and skin cancers do occur in every complexion.

Do yourself a favor and ask your dermatologist about the scale and how it can help you take better care of your skin.


Reference

Archives of Dermatology, 124 (6): 869–871
Photochemical and photobiological reviews, Pathak, M. A.; Jimbow, K.; Szabo, G.; Fitzpatrick, T. B. (1976)
Reference
Archives of Dermatology, 124 (6): 869–871
Photochemical and photobiological reviews, Pathak, M. A.; Jimbow, K.; Szabo, G.; Fitzpatrick, T. B. (1976)