Understanding the Difference in UVA and UVB Sun Damage
The easiest way to remember the difference in UVA and UVB is UVA is related to aging, and UVB is related to burning. Essentially, ultraviolet A, the sun’s (long-wave) and ultraviolet B (shortwave).
Since the advent of modern sunscreens, a sunscreen’s efficacy has been measured by its sun protection factor, or SPF. SPF is not an amount of protection per se. Rather, it indicates how long it will take for UVB rays to redden skin when using a sunscreen, compared to how long skin would take to redden without the product. For instance, someone using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will take 15 times longer to redden than without the sunscreen. An SPF 15 sunscreen screens 93 percent of the sun’s UVB rays; SPF 30 protects against 97 percent; and SPF 50, 98 percent. The Skin Cancer Foundation maintains that SPFs of 15 or higher are necessary for adequate protection.
UV and Skin Cancer
By damaging the skin’s cellular DNA, excessive UV radiation produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. Both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have identified UV as a proven human carcinogen.
UV radiation is considered the main cause of nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC), UVA is the dominant tanning ray, and we now know that tanning, whether outdoors or in a salon, causes cumulative damage over time. A tan results from injury to the skin’s DNA; the skin darkens in an imperfect attempt to prevent further DNA damage. These imperfections, or mutations, can lead to skin cancer. including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). These cancers strike more than a million and more than 250,000 Americans, respectively, each year. Many experts believe that, especially for fair-skinned people, UV radiation also frequently plays a key role in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which kills more than 8,000 Americans each year.
There are over one million cases of skin cancer in the US yearly. That is more than lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer combined.
Health effects of UV radiation
Small amounts of UV are beneficial for people and essential in the production of vitamin D.
UVA is the dominant tanning ray, and we now know that tanning, whether outdoors or in a salon, causes cumulative damage over time. A tan results from injury to the skin’s DNA; the skin darkens in an imperfect attempt to prevent further DNA damage. These imperfections, or mutations, can lead to skin cancer.
Tanning booths primarily emit UVA. The high-pressure sunlamps used in tanning salons emit doses of UVA as much as 12 times that of the sun. Not surprisingly, people who use tanning salons are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. According to recent research, first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.
Knowing the dangers of sun exposure, whether direct or indirect, it becomes crucial that we create a routine of proper sun protection. One of the things I like to tell my clients who come in for facials is to be protected from the dangers of the Fort Lauderdale sun. We want to ‘enjoy our fun in the sun lifestyles’ and that is why we all live here, and we can have both. We can enjoy the sun as long as we are properly protected with professional strength sun block products that are especially designed for your personal skin type.