- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Skin Color; Albino, the fairest of them all !
Skin color and Albinism
The skin consists of two layers, the outer layer is called 'The epidermis' and the inner layer ' The Dermis' . The epidermis consists of four layers of cells being from surface inwards, the stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum and stratum basale or also called the basal cell layer. Situated among the basal cells are the 'Melanocyte' cells which produce the pigment called melanin. The skin gets its color depending on the color of the pigment, black, brown, pink etc.
A person gets albinism when he inherits one or more defective genes that make them incapable of producing the normal amounts of the pigment melanin. Persons born with albinism are very fair with pale hair and light eyes. An albino is generally as healthy as anybody else. However, they commonly have problems with their vision and the skin. Many of them suffer from low vision and photosensitivity with discomfort in bright light. The pigment melanin in the skin helps protect against the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Since albinos lack the pigment, they are more likely to get a sunburn on exposure to the sun.
There is no cure for albinism. Treatment and use of Aids is directed at protecting the skin and the eyes. The affected person should avoid exposure to the sun by using high factor sunscreen, protective clothing, hat etc. Vision aids such as reading glasses, bifocals, magnifiers, monoculars, colored contact lenses, bioptics and bright reading lights can go a long way in helping the albino get over his vision problems. Surgery on the ocular muscles can help in some cases.
Persons affected by albinism are at risk of social isolation, because the condition is often misunderstood. Albinos commonly face mockery, discrimination and prejudice in different cultures around the world. Society and communities in general must adopt an inclusive attitude towards them.Support groups can help albinos feel less isolated and learn positive attitudes and coping skills.