Skin complexion is a characteristic that is affected by many factors. Various genes, nutrition, and environmental factors can play a role in the color of skin. One of the most notable components of skin that contributes to complexion is a pigment known as melanin. Let’s discuss melanin and its functions in humans and other animals.
Production and Function
Melanin is a pigment that is produced by cells known as melanocytes in the skin of most animals, including humans. This pigment comes in different shades, depending on the genetic makeup of the individual and their indigenous heritage. In humans, there is a difference with the rate at which the skin produce melanin as a result of the temperature that is prevalent in the various part of the world. Ultimately the closer or further you are from the equator, the lighter of darker your skin will typically be, given the different levels of sun exposure.
American schoolteacher Jane Elliott is a well respected antiracism activist and educator, and is known for her “Blue eyes/Brown eyes” exercise. She first conducted her famous exercise for her class on April 5, 1968, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Types Of Melanin
Melanin comes in two basic forms and can have a wide range. Eumelanin is the most common form of melanin and is brownish in color. The other basic form is called pheomelanin, which produces reddish-brown color that is often associated with freckles and red hair. The production of melanin in the individual is determined by several factors.
- Eumelanin This is peculiar to darker skin and has enough capacity to give protection from the UV rays of the sun.
- Pheomelanin This is peculiar to Light Skin and very weak to give protection from damages caused by ultra violet radiation compared to eumelanin and makes the light skinned people to burn when exposed to the UV rays
Genetically speaking, every individual on Earth has approximately the same number of melanocytes. The difference, then, in the production of melanin is affected by:
- Exposure to UV radiation/ “tanning”: Melanin is produced as a response to UV radiation in order to prevent damage to the DNA in the integument. Individuals, who are exposed to UV light, such as the sun, will produce more melanin for protection.
- Genetic makeup: Different ethnicities and cultures are genetically pre-disposed to producing particular shades and amounts of melanin due to inheritance. This is, essentially, one of the primary indicators used in determining race in the human population. It is important to note that this is, and has historically been, a controversial form of human identification.
- Size of melanocytes: Melanocyte size varies in different individuals and may lead to a difference in the amount of melanin produced per cell.
- Skin conditions: Several diseases may affect melanin production, including albinism, a genetic inability to produce melanin, hypo-pigmentation, and vitiligo, a progressive loss of melanocytes.
- The African-Carribbean (dark skin) and Asian (light to brown tone with yellow undertone),. Hyper and Hypo pigmentation is a major thing of concern common with these category of skin. Although producing melanin at this high rate is an advantage and protects the skin from the damaging effects of the UVrays.
Conduct Electricity & Use in Bioelectronics / implants
Your skin’s melanin is capable of wondrous things like conducting electricity. Researchers have known for a long time that eumelanin—the pigment that colors human skin, hair, and eyes—can conduct electricity.
In a result researchers call, High Vacuum Annealed Eumelanin (HVAE.), they discovered that becomes eumelanin more conductive without adding outside agents, and developed a process that organized the molecules so electricity could flow from electron to electron.The process turns eumelanin “into a real conductor,”