The Fitzpatrick Scale
This is a popular skin classification system developed in 1975 by Thomas Fitzpatrick, MD, of Harvard Medical School. This simple classification measures the skin’s tolerance to sunlight – UV waves – specifically, the skin’s tendency to tan or burn. In our clinic, it is used to determine how a client will respond or react to professional treatments. The scale helps to highlight potential for irritation, pigmentation reactions and the level of how quick the skin will burn. For example, Fitzpatrick skin type I will have a greater tendency to have an irritation reaction but less post inflammatory pigmentation where as a Fitzpatrick skin type VI will be less likely to be develop irritation but has a higher risk of developing post inflammatory pigmentation and scaring.
What Does This Mean To You?
Skin Type 1 - 2 have a higher risk of sun damage, skin aging from sun exposure and melanoma.
Skin types 3-6 still have some risk of skin cancer from sun exposure however less so than 1 or 2 type skin. Higher fitzpatrick skin types are often diagnosed at a later stage, contributing to a poorer overall outlook. The lesson here: Get your skin checked annually with a doctor regardless of your skin type.
Using artificial tanning beds is harmful to all skin types. A 2013 study suggests that if a person uses an artificial tanning bed before they reach the age of 35, they are 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma later in life.