The difference between UVA and UVB rays

UVA Rays

UVA rays are long wave solar rays. While they have less energy than UVB rays, they can penetrate the deepest layers of skin and cause damage such as wrinkles and age spots. The cumulative damage of UVA rays breaks down the collagen and elastin in the skin. They are less likely to play a role in severe sunburns.

UVA rays make up a majority of the sun’s ultraviolet light and can penetrate clouds, windows, light colored clothing, and windshields. UVA rays are used in tanning beds. They also help the body produce vitamin D.

UVB Rays

While shorter in wavelength, UVB rays are more potent and are responsible for sunburns and are a primary culprit in skin cancer. UVB rays stimulate melanocyte cells to produce melanin, the substance responsible for skin pigmentation. UVB rays do the most damage during the peak heating of the day, typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

UVA/UVB and Skin Cancer

Much of the focus has been on UVB rays, but recent research also shows UVA rays contributing to the development of skin cancer. Think about this – most tanning beds use UVA rays. Tanning causes cumulative damage to the skin over time. A tan results from injury to the skin’s DNA. Repeat this process each time you visit a tanning bed. These mutations in skin’s DNA can eventually lead to skin cancer.

Protection from both UVA and UVB rays are optimal to in preventing skin damage and skin cancer. This includes covering exposed areas of skin and using sunscreens while outside.

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3 Responses to The difference between UVA and UVB rays

  1. Gemma says:

    Can somebody please help me to understand the difference between UVA and UVB light? ive recently been diagnosed with psoriasis and its affecting my life in a big way, im only 24 yrs old and feel like i cant wear certain clothes because of my skin. i used to go on sunbeds occasionally and need to know if im ok to carry on using them as long as it doesnt effect my psoriasis. The psoriasis has left certain parts of my skin discoloured and lighter than the rest of my skin and i would love to use sunbeds again if this means hiding these patches. Is there uvb light in sunbeds??

    • SoyWorld USA says:

      UVA make up a majority of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. They also help the human body absorb vitamin D and are also used in tanning beds. UVB rays are more potent and can cause sunburns. We devoted a blog post on June 10 which explains the two in greater detail. We honestly can’t endorse the use of tanning beds, as the research involving skin cancer and other negative effects are overwhelming. In addition, sunbeds that use UVA light are ineffective for the treatment of psoriasis. UV treatment used in hospitals for psoriasis is done in a controlled setting using UVB rays. To our knowledge, sun tanning beds use primarily UVA rays. We also devoted a post to psoriasis on July 19 you might find interesting. We hope this helps.

  2. Pingback: Everyday Habits That Age Your Skin

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