The key difference between black and white skin relies on the type of melanin produced in these two types of skin. Black skin is a result of the production of eumelanin, which is dark brown to black in color while white skin is a result of the production of pheomelanin, which is red to yellow in color.
Human skin color varies from darkest to the lightest shades. Melanin is the main pigment responsible for skin color in humans. Therefore, genetics also play a major role in determining skin color. Black skin is mainly due to the production of eumelanin while white skin is due to pheomelanin.
What is Black Skin?
Black skin refers to dark human skin complexions. However, the main reason for black skin is the production of melanin. Black skin is a result of the overproduction of eumelanin. Eumelanin is a type of melanin which is responsible for the dark color in humans. Eumelanin produces dark brown to black color pigments, resulting in dark skin coloration.
In addition, the size and the number of pigment-producing cells also affect skin color. Melanocytes are pigment-producing cells. When there is a high number of melanocytes or large-sized melanocytes, there is an increased production of melanin. Therefore, this could also result in more darker colors leading to black skin color.
Furthermore, the expression, behavior and the effects of melanin are dependent on its genetics. Therefore, genetics also play a major role in black skin color. Further, this is the main reason why black skin color is also limited to a particular group of people based on their ethnicities. Moreover, there are specific dermatologic conditions involved with black skin people. Conditions such as melasma, eczema discoid and systemic lupus erythematosus are commonly found in dark-skinned people.
What is White Skin?
White skinned people are most often confined to Western Europe and central Asian regions. However, the main scientific reason for the prevalence of white skin is the presence of pheomelanin. Pheomelanin is a type of melanin which is responsible for the light color of skin. Pheomelanin produces a pigment of red to yellow color, resulting in light coloration of the skin. In addition, the less number of melanocytes and small-sized melanocytes also lead to white color skin. It is because they produce less amount of melanin in comparison to large sized cells.
Similar to black skin, white skin is also a result of the genetics of melanin production. Moreover, there are special skin diseases and conditions associated with white skin. Some of these conditions are, skin cancers associated with low melanin production and non -melanoma skin cancers.
What are the Similarities Between Black and White Skin?
- Melanin is responsible for both black and white skin.
- Also, genetics plays a role in the expression of both black and white skin.
- Both black and white skin color may vary upon its distribution across the world.
- Furthermore, both types of skin coloration show various skin diseases and dermatologic conditions.
What is the Difference Between Black and White Skin?
The key difference between black and white skin is based on the type of melanin produced. Black skin contains eumelanin while white skin produces pheomelanin. Moreover, a further difference between black and white skin is the characteristics of melanocytes. Black skin population has a high count of melanocytes and melanocytes are larger in size. In contrast, white skin population has a low count of melanocytes and they are comparatively smaller in size.
The below infographic represents more information regarding the difference between black and white skin.
Summary – Black vs White Skin
Black and white skin color is a common topic of debate due to its social considerations. However, biologically, the difference between black and white skin colors are due to the differences in melanin production. Black skin color or darker skin is due to the production of eumelanin. In contrast, white or light skin color is due to the production of pheomelanin. Therefore, genetics play a major role in determining the skin color of a person. However, both types of skin colors are subjected to skin cancers and other dermatologic conditions owing to various exposures.
1. Czerkasij, et al. “Skin of Color: A Basic Outline of Unique Differences.” NursingCenter, Available here.