MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: If albinos don't have melanin, can they get a tan?

Area: Medicine
Posted By: kathi clement, faculty md, family practice, Univ. of Wyoming
Date: Fri Oct 10 10:42:37 1997
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 876002528.Me
Concerning your question about albinism and melanin.  No, they can't 
tan.  Complete albinism occurs in all races and has an incidence of from 1 
in 5000 to 1 in 25000.  These people have an enzyme deficiency of 
tryosinase which is essential for the formation of melanin, and as you 
noted have minimal skin coloration, pink pupils, and yellow or white hair.  
They do not tan, and should be very careful with sun exposure (wear 
sunscreen, hats and protective clothing) as they can develop precancerous 
skin changes and skin cancers early.  They also need to wear eye protection 
(sunglasses with UV protection) as cataract formation can occur.


Admin note:
Jennifer adds:
It just so happens that I am an albino. It is not true that ALL albino's have white skin and pink eyes. I have albinisome and do NOT have pink eyes. In fact, I have quite blue eyes. My whole life I've had to wear sun screen, a hat, and glasses. There are two typs of albinisome, the kind that effects your eyes, and the kind that effects your skin. I have both, but still blue eyes. You asked if Albino's can tan. The answer is yes and no. People with more pigment in their skin will tan but I do not have that much pigment in my skin so I can't tan.

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