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Why does the human skin have different colours?

Have you noticed that people from different countries and race have different skin colours? For example, people in the northern Europe have white skin whereas those in the western Africa have black skin. People in the Southeast Asia have yellowish skin. Do you know the reason for the variation in this skin colour? The colour of the human skin depends mainly on three ‘pigments‘ or ‘colouring materials‘ found in the body. The first of these is called ‘melanin‘ which is a brown substance. If concentrated, it appears black. The second is called ‘carotene‘ which is a yellow substance. And the third is called ‘haemoglobin‘ which is the red pigment of the blood. In the absence of these pigments, the colour of the skin will be creamy white. The mixture of these three in different proportions produces the different colours of the skin. A man having more melanin will have dark complexion while the man having more of carotene will have yellowish skin. Melanin and carotene are found in the deep epidermis in all skin types. The tissues of the body produce more melanin when exposed to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. That is why the colour of the skin of the people who live in tropical regions is very dark. When we work in the sunlight continuously for days, our skin becomes dark. People living in the colder countries have white skin, because their skin contains smaller quantities of melanin. The deficiency of these pigments in the body produces white spots on the body. This disorder is called ‘leucoderma’. The colour of the skin depends partly on the amount of blood circulating through the dermis and the texture of the dermis. Since the texture varies considerably in different people, the light that falls on the skin is not always reflected in the same way. This is why the colour of a person’s skin varies from place to place.

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