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Unreliability of Self-reported Burning Tendency and Tanning Ability

Frans H. J. Rampen, MD; B. A. M. Fleuren, MD; Theo M. de Boo, PhD; Wim A. J. G. Lemmens, PhD
Arch Dermatol. 1988;124(6):885-888. doi:10.1001/archderm.1988.01670060031011.
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• Burning and tanning histories were studied in 790 white students 18 to 30 years of age by means of a self-administered questionnaire. Only 325 cases (41.1%) were classifiable according to the Fitzpatrick scheme (skin types I to IV). Skin type I (always burn, never tan) was recorded only twice (0.3%). The minimal erythemal dose was measured in a subgroup of 197 students; these results showed no significant correlation with the self-reported burning tendency. In 508 students the burning-tanning histories were compared with eye and hair color, freckling tendency, and number of moles. The tanning ability showed a better correlation with skin complexion characteristics than the burning tendency. It is concluded that self-reported burning-tanning histories form an unreliable means of skin typing.

(Arch Dermatol 1988;124:885-888)


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