Summer may be over, but with all the water and outdoor activities available to us in Maryland, you probably had your fair share of sun exposure. At the Laser Center of Maryland, we treat all types of sun damage and skin cancer caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and by tanning booth rays. We want our patients to know what they’re dealing with, so here’s a little primer on UVA and UVB rays.
There are two types of ultraviolet rays that impact your skin — UVA and UVB. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have identified UV rays as a proven human carcinogen. UV rays produce genetic mutations that lead to skin cancer.
- Are the sun’s long-wave rays
- Can pass through window glass
- Penetrate deep into the dermis (the layer beneath the epidermis)
- Contribute to premature signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles
- Can trigger the formation of skin cancers
- Are the dominant tanning ray
Long known to play a major role in skin aging and wrinkling, until recently scientists didn’t think UVA rays caused significant damage in the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. But over the past 20 years, studies have shown that UVA damages skin cells called keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis.
Also, tanning booths emit primarily UVA rays, 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. And recent research shows that if the first exposure to tanning beds occurs during youth that this increases the melanoma risk by 75 percent in those people as adults.
- Are the sun’s short-wave rays
- Are the primary cause of sunburn
- Penetrate the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis
- Change in intensity from season to season and time of day
- Do not penetrate glass effectively
Because they don’t penetrate as deeply as UVA rays, UVB rays damage the superficial layer of the skin cells where most skin cancers occur. UVB was the primary target of sunscreens up until the last decade. Now, any quality sunscreen protects against both types of ultraviolet rays. The best sunscreen contains a physical block such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Knowledge is key to limiting your skin damage from the sun. But once it is damaged, be it simple age-related sun damage or skin cancer, the team at Laser Center of Maryland can provide the treatment you need. Give us a call at 410-544-4600 for a FREE skin consultation. Transformation Now!