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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

Bolognia JL, Orlow SJ. Melanocyte biology. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 65.

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.

Review Date 6/28/2018

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.