Laser Fitzpatrick Skin Type Recommendations

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.


First described by Thomas B. Fitzpatrick in 1972, the Fitzpatrick skin phototypes were developed based on an individual's skin color and their tendency to burn or tan when exposed to sunlight. More specifically, classification was based on a patient's responses to the following questions regarding their skin's reaction to a 45-60 minute, early summer, noon sun exposure in northern latitudes (20-45 degrees): "how painful is your sunburn?" and "how much tan will you develop in a week?" Initially enumerated as skin types I through IV to classify patients with white skin, the Fitzpatrick phototype classification scale was later modified to include types V and VI for persons with darker skin. Generally, a lower Fitzpatrick skin type classification indicates skin that burns more easily than it tans, while a higher Fitzpatrick skin type indicates the opposite (Table 1). The most common skin type in the United States is type III (48%), with types I and II comprising the second largest group (35% in total).

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