Diffuse reflectance spectrophotometry for skin phototype determination


F. J. González
Instituto de Investigación en Comunicación Óptica
Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí
Álvaro Obregón #64
Col. Centro, CP 78000
San Luis Potosi, SLP
Tel:+52 444 825 0183 ext 232
Fax:+52 444 825 0198


Background: The Fitzpatrick skin phototype classification scheme has become the standard method for assessing the reaction of the skin to solar stimuli; this method can be easily biased by different factors, such as ethnicity or chronic sun exposure.

Methods: Diffuse reflectance spectrophotometry (DRS) is an objective and non-invasive method used in this work to determine constitutive skin color from the upper volar arm as an objective way of measuring skin pigmentation. A DRS-determined melanin index that accounts for skin pigmentation was obtained for 35 subjects of Hispanic origin, this melanin index was compared with the physician-diagnosed and self-reported skin phototypes.

Results: The results show that at least for Hispanic individuals, there is a clear clinical distinction between subjects with skin phototype I and their DRS-determined melanin index; however, subjects with skin phototypes II–VI have a large melanin index overlap.

Conclusion: Clinical assessment of skin phototype can be complemented by using DRS.