UVA and UVB – What’s the Difference?

So summer is here once again meaning that us sun-starved Brits are flocking outside and abroad to enjoy some of those precious rays. If like me you have a tendency to burn, then it’s important to stay safe and protected from the sun to minimise your risk of developing skin cancer later in life. Experts say that it’s important to have protection from both UVA and UVB rays, but what exactly are they, and what’s the difference?

First of all, I’ll do a quick 101 on your skin. So the skin is made up of 3 layers; the skin surface, the epidermis and the dermis. The skin surface is obviously self-explanatory, and then the epidermis is the layer below this, and finally the dermis is the deepest layer.

Now moving on, first up for discussion is UVA, which is short for Ultra Violet A. The lower layers of your skin, the dermis, are affected by these rays as it penetrates to the deepest level. More specifically, UVA is long wavelength UV, and it is these rays that cause wrinkling and premature aging, and can exacerbate and is thought to even be a cause of skin cancer. UVA rays account for around 95% of all solar radiation that reaches the earth from the sun, and are present year round, even in winter, as long as the sun is up. It can penetrate glass and clouds, so really even on cloudy winter days you should wear some form of skin protection.

Next up are UVB rays, which rather unimaginatively stands for Ultra Violet B. These rays are the ones that affect the upper layers of your skin and are responsible for the more immediately visible effects of the sun such as tanning and unfortunately burning. It is also UVB rays that play a greater role in the cause and development of skin cancer. While sunburn is temporarily painful, don’t forget that it can cause more lasting damage too that you won’t initially see. Fortunately UVB rays are only really prevalent between April and October when the sun is at its highest.

So there you have the differences between UVA and UVB. With UVA you need to consider protecting your skin year round, and with UVB it is more a risk for the summer months. So protect that skin – it’s the only one you’ve got!

Brits often will forget to apply sun-cream appropriately. When going on holiday to destinations like Malta where the sun is a lot more powerful its easy to forget that it can be something that can do temporary and permanent damage. For more information on how to be careful and use the sun to your advatage when on holiday go to:  https://www.chevron.co.uk/malta-hotels/mellieha/seabank-resort-and-spa    


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