Document Detail

Blue in the skin.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  10727304     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: The most prevalent theory explaining blue colors in skin is that of bluish scatter. If this accounted for blue perception, it would be measurable since a predominance of scattered blue light should emerge as a measurable reflectance. When objects are viewed with chromatic surround, there may be an increased perception of the hue complementary to their background. This effect, known as color contrast, is a well-established phenomenon and depends on the size, lightness, and intensity of the surrounding color. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this article is to determine the effect of background on the perception of blue color from a superficial vein. METHODS: Fifteen subjects were asked to observe the color of skin overlying a vein on the hand. This was performed with a variety of achromatic backgrounds and with variable amounts of surrounding normal skin. Color was also measured by direct matching with standardized Munsell chips and then estimated with normal skin surround. RESULTS: Color matching revealed the hue of the vein to be yellowish-gray, and not blue or green. Although few subjects observed green or blue with neutral backgrounds, as the vein was viewed with progressively larger areas of normal surrounding skin, there was an increasing perception of these colors. CONCLUSION: The bluish color of superficial veins is more clearly explained by color contrast than by scattering. Contrast may also account for the color of certain blue nevi and may help explain some purplish colors in the skin.
P L Reisfeld
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology     Volume:  42     ISSN:  0190-9622     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Am. Acad. Dermatol.     Publication Date:  2000 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2000-05-02     Completed Date:  2000-05-02     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7907132     Medline TA:  J Am Acad Dermatol     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  597-605     Citation Subset:  IM    
Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University Medical Center and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, New York, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Color Perception*
Scattering, Radiation
Skin / blood supply*
Skin Pigmentation*
Comment In:
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 May;44(5):872-4   [PMID:  11312442 ]
J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 May;44(5):874-5   [PMID:  11312444 ]

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