UV RADIATION AND SKIN DAMAGE

drkmh UV RADIATION AND SKIN DAMAGE

 

UVA rays and UVB rays in sunlight damages skin cells on overexposure. Sun damaged cells can develop into skin cancer.

WWhile most claims made by cosmetic companies come across as suspicious, there’s one that does hold a considerable amount of truth – the need to use make-up products that have UV protection. And for those who do not use make-up, a sunscreen lotion is a must-have. Why? Ultraviolet Rays in sunlight can damage skin and even lead to cancer!

 

WHAT IS ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION?

 

Ultraviolet Radiation (or UV Radiation) is a type of non-ionising radiation present in sunlight and in other artificial sources such as tanning beds, Mercury vapor lighting, some halogen, fluorescent, incandescent lights and in some types of lasers. Exposure to intense, direct amounts of non-ionizing radiation may result in damage to tissue due to heat.

 

Ultraviolet Radiation is divided into three types: UVA, UVB and UVC – all based on their wavelengths. UVA rays have the longest wavelengths, followed by UVB and UVC rays which have the shortest wavelengths. All three can affect skin health. However, UVC rays are absorbed entirely by the ozone layer in Earth’s atmosphere, along with part of the UVB rays. This means the type of UV radiation that our skin comes in contact with the most are UVA rays and then UVB rays, and both damage skin cells on over-exposure. Sun damaged cells can develop into skin cancer.

 

UVA versus UVB

 

UVA rays have longer wavelengths and are less potent than UVB rays. Nevertheless they penetrate deeper and form the maximum part of UV radiation in sunlight. This means that when our skin is exposed to sunlight, UVA rays can penetrate the middle layer of the skin. The damage caused leads to skin-aging.

 

UVB rays that escape the ozone layer, form a small part of the UV radiation that our skin comes in contact with. However, UVB rays are stronger than UVA rays and damage the outer layer of the skin, causing sunburns.

 

SKIN DAMAGE CAUSED BY UV RADIATION

 

  • Prolonged exposure to UV Radiation is the cause of most nonmelanoma skin cancers and a large percentage of melanomas as well.
  • Premature wrinkles and skin aging is also a direct impact of UV radiation – especially UVA rays that penetrate the skin.
  • UVA rays are everywhere. They not only escape absorption by the ozone layer, but can also pass through cloud cover, window panes and even clothing.
  • Sun damaged cells are at higher risk of leading to cancer, but it does not happen overnight. The body repairs damaged cells – even those damaged by sun exposure. However, prolonged exposure means more damaged cells and not all of it can be repaired by the body. Over time the build-up of damaged cells can lead to a malignant tumor.
  • Geographic location plays an important role in the extent of sun damage. If you live in a region that is hot all year round, your chances for over-exposure to UV radiation is higher. Living at a higher altitude also increases risk of UV radiation.

STAYING PROTECTED FROM UV RADIATION:

 

  • Most damage is done when the sun is at its hottest and this is usually between 10am and 4pm. Stay indoors during this time of the day.
  • Use a sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF). And make sure the SPF protects you from UVA and UVB radiation. Today most foundation creams and cosmetics have SPF too.
  • If you must spend time outdoors in the blistering heat dress and accessorise appropriately: wear clothes that cover your skin effectively, use dark glasses to protect your eyes, wear a hat or a cap to protect your face and neck.
  • You can even consider using a UV protective film on the windows at home and your car.
  • Steer clear of the tanning booth.

Dr. Karthikeyan Perumal is  a best radiation oncologist
Reviewed By:

DR.KARTHIKEYAN PERUMAL

CONSULTANT – RADIATION ONCOLOGY

MBBS, DM RT, DNB (RADIOTION ONCOLOGY)

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