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How do UVA, UVB, and UVC Rays Affect Your Skin?

The sun emits three different types of wavelengths down to earth; UVA, UVB and UVC rays. UV radiation is a spectrum of light that penetrates the earth’s atmosphere and plays a huge part in premature skin aging, eye damage, and skin cancers. The radiate produces genetic mutations as a result of the skin’s cellular damage and is considered a human carcinogen. It’s the main cause of the following most common skin cancers that affect more than 250,000 Americans every year: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and the most deadly, melanoma.

Knowing the difference between the waves is useful to understand the damage you may be inflicting upon yourself by bathing in the sun. UVA is a shortwave that penetrates the skin deeper than UVB waves, and while UVB is a longer wave affects the upper layers of the skin, which makes it the main cause of skin reddening and sunburn. The most potent amount of UVB affects Americans between 10am and 4pm between April and October, however the rays can do damage throughout the year and through cloudy weather. Snow or ice can bounce up to 80 percent of their rays onto you as well, which means you’re going to get hit almost twice as hard by harm.

The UVA rays damage the dermis, which is the skin’s thickest layer and once that is damaged, can lead to premature aging with wrinkles, age spots, increased risk of skin cancer and a suppressed immune system.

UVC rays actually have the shortest wavelength and are the most dangerous of all rays, however they don’t reach the earth’s surface and are completely absorbed by the ozone layer.

When any UV rays react with melanin, the skin begins to tan and overexposure leads to sunburn. Melanin is the body’s active defense against the sun and once that is disrupted, harm has been done. The key is to not burn, protect yourself with broad spectrum sunscreen, at least SPF 30 protection and take care of your skin and overall health.

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

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