Racial variability in skin function is an area in which data often conflict. Understanding and quantifying racial differences in skin function are important for skin care and the prevention and treatment of skin diseases. A key feature that characterizes race is skin color: Is deeply pigmented skin different from fair skin in terms of responses to chemical and environmental insults? Is skin care the same? Are there different risks among racial groups of developing a skin disease after exposure to the same insults? The interpretation of pathophysiologic phenomena should consider not only anatomic and functional characteristics of ethnic groups but also socioeconomic, hygienic, and nutritional factors. This article reviews and discusses recent findings.
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