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June 1988

Unreliability of Self-reported Burning Tendency and Tanning Ability

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Dermatology (Drs Rampen and Fleuren) and Statistical Consultation (Drs de Boo and Lemmens), University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Dr Rampen is now with the Department of Dermatology, Sint Anna Hospital, Oss, the Netherlands.

Arch Dermatol. 1988;124(6):885-888. doi:10.1001/archderm.1988.01670060031011

• 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)