Skin Health - Others

What Happens when Melanin Decreases

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: January 16, 2017
What Happens when Melanin Decreases

Melanin is a skin pigment found in almost all organisms on the earth, including humans. It is produced by melanocytes in a variety of shades, ranging from dark brown to yellowish red. The color and amount of melanin in your skin largely depends on your genetic makeup. Many people, especially in the warmer parts of the world, try to reduce their melanin to get fairer skin. But there are other effects of decreased melanin too. Here in this article, we are trying to find out what happens when melanin decreases.

You may also be interested in: What Is The Function of Melanin
  1. How melanin decreases
  2. Effects of reduced melanin
  3. Effects of increased melanin

How melanin decreases

Almost everyone has the same amount of melanocytes in the body, though melanin production

  • UV radiation: Skin cells produce melanin as a response to ultraviolet rays with an aim to prevent damage to the person’s DNA. People who remain in the sunlight for longer periods of time will have more melanin to stay protected, and those who remain indoors or in areas with lighter sunlight will have less melanin.
  • Heredity: Certain ethnicities are genetically planned to produce more or less amounts of melanin because of their inheritance. Races are determined in the world based on this primary indicator.
  • Size of the melanocytes: The size of melanin producing cells called melanocytes may be different in certain individuals, and this may largely affect their melanin production as well.
  • Certain diseases: Some diseases may also affect production of melanin, such as vitiligo and albinism.

Effects of reduced melanin

The Function of Melanin is to protect skin from harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun. This is the reason why people living near the equator have the darkest skin of all. UV radiation causes damage to the skin cells, thus promotes melanoma, a skin cancer. Caucasian Americans who have the lightest skin have 10% more risk of developing melanoma. So, reduced melanin can be directly linked to increased risk of skin cancer.

  • Lack of melanin may also be related to photo-degradation of some vitamins in the body, such as carotenoids, riboflavins, tocopherol and folate.
  • People's eyes also have melanin, which protects them from high-frequency and ultraviolet light. People with blue, green and gray eyes have low melanin and have increased risk of developing eye problems related to sun exposure.
  • Exposure to the sun causes premature skin aging, and if you don’t have enough melanin, you may exhibit more signs of aging and look older earlier. People with less melanin are known to develop wrinkles, skin roughness and age spots much earlier than those who have ample melanin.

Take a look at the foods that increase melanin production if you need more information on the subject.

Effects of increased melanin

On the contrary, too much melanin is harmful too. UV radiation needs to penetrate into the skin in shortwave and produce vitamin D. If a body does not receive any UV radiation at all due to too much melanin in their skin, it will suffer from the lack of vitamin D, and its associated conditions, such as bone ache, obesity, gut trouble etc.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to What Happens when Melanin Decreases, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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What Happens when Melanin Decreases