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Melanin

Melanin is a natural substance that gives color (pigment) to:

  • Hair
  • Skin
  • The iris of the eye

It is produced by cells in the skin called melanocytes.

Melanin also helps protect the skin from the sun.

Alternative Names

Skin pigment

Images

References

Moore KL, Torchia MG. Development of eyes and ears. In: Moore KL, Torchia MG, eds. The Developing Human. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 18.

Young B, O'Dowd G, Woodford P. Skin. In: Young B, O'Dowd G, eds. Wheater's Functional Histology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 9.

Review Date 8/22/2016

Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.