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Photochem Photobiol. 2004 Jun;79(6):540-4.

Determination of the minimal erythema dose and colorimetric measurements as indicators of skin sensitivity to UV-B radiation.

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Department of Sanitary Dermatology of the Health and Environment Department of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


There is a strong relation between chronic UV-B-induced sunburns and the development of skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to obtain a method that can be reproduced easily to detect individuals with similar skin color but different sensitiveness to sun exposure. The study evaluated 193 healthy volunteers (68% women; the average age was 38 years). They were divided into six groups of at least 30 subjects, according to skin type. The minimal erythema dose (MED) was assessed in two non-sun-exposed areas (thorax-infra-axillary area and on the buttocks), using a UV-B source (0.5 mW/cm2), with openings of 1 cm2, in increasing doses. The same areas were evaluated with a Minolta CR 300 Chromameter (L*a*b* system). The MED values ranged from 13 to 156 mJ/cm2; the coordinate L* (brightness) ranged from 75.96 to 30.15. The correlation between the MED and the brightness was negative in both areas (Pearson's correlation r = -0.91, P < 0.05). Color measurements, especially brightness, can be used to quickly assess skin sensibility. Considering the MED, there is a substantial overlapping of adjacent phototypes, but they could be separated into two groups: more sensitive individuals (Types I, II, III and IV) and less sensitive ones (Types V and VI).

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