Authored by JoannaRasmuson

Protecting your Skin: The Three Types of UV Radiation

July 30, 2021 | DermatologyMedical Oncology

Summer is a great time to take advantage of the outdoors. From swimming in the lake to taking a family vacation to a national park, there are many ways you can have fun outside. While having fun in the sun, however, it is important to remember the negative effect that UV radiation can have on your skin if you are not careful.

What is UV radiation?

There are many types of radiation, including high-intensity/high-frequency radiation, (x-rays and gamma rays), and low energy/low-frequency radiation (radio waves). UV rays are in the middle of this spectrum and have more energy than regular light but not as much energy as x-rays. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun. Man-made sources, such as tanning beds and welding torches, can also produce UV radiation.

What are the three types of UV radiation?

There are three types of UV radiation:

  • UVA Rays have the least amount of energy. This type of ray can cause skin cells to age and inflict direct damage to the cells’ DNA. Many UVA rays are linked to long-term skin damage, such as wrinkles, and they may play a role in early-stage skin cancer.
  • UVB Rays have slightly more energy than UVA rays. They damage the skin cells directly and are the main cause of sunburns and skin cancers. In most cases, UVB rays present the most risk factors for skin cancer and are the most harmful for your skin.
  • UVC Rays have more energy than most types of UV rays. These rays react with the ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere and do not reach the ground, so they are not usually a risk factor for skin cancer. UVC rays can also come from man-made sources such as mercury lamps, welding torches, and UV sanitizing bulbs.

Potential dangers of UV radiation

Too much sun/UV ray exposure can potentially lead to sun-damaged skin, sunburns, wrinkles, and skin cancer, which is the most common cancer in the United States. In speaking about the dangers of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology Association states that “skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of skin color. Skin cancer in patients with skin of color is often diagnosed in its later stages when it’s more difficult to treat.” To avoid these potential risks, practice good sun safety.

Protecting your skin from UV rays

There are many ways you can effectively practice sun safety this summer and all year round. Some of these include:

  • Wearing protective clothing: You can block UV rays by wearing shade-protection clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. These clothing items can partially shield your skin from UV exposure. Additionally, you should wear your sunglasses when you are outside to protect your eyes from UV radiation even on cloudy days or during non-summer months.
  • Stay in the shade: UV radiation is most intense between 10 am and 4 pm. Make sure to find cover during these crucial times.
  • Avoid indoor tanning: The Centers for Disease Control has stated that indoor tanning can increase the risk of skin cancers such as Melanoma, cataracts, and eye cancers.
  • Choose the right sunscreen and apply generously: Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and apply generously. To get the best results, apply your sunscreen for 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours.
  • Stay cautious year-round: Protect your skin throughout the entire year as reflective surfaces such as water, snow, and sand can reflect damaging rays onto your skin.
  • Check the UV Index before you leave for the day.

If you have any questions about UV Radiation or wonder if you might be at risk for skin cancers like Melanoma, contact our skin cancer specialists at any of our Revere Health Dermatology clinics. They can instruct you further on ways to protect your skin and offer skin cancer screenings to help you avoid future skin damage from the sun.

Lindsey LeBaron


Lindsey LeBaron

Lindsey LeBaron has been working as the Marketing Assistant for Revere Health for the past three years. Lindsey has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences at Brigham Young University and will graduate with her master’s degree in global strategic communications at Florida International University in December 2021. Coupled with her master’s degree, Lindsey is also working on a certification in crisis management and consensus-building. Recently, she was awarded the honor of joining the National Communications Association as a member of the Lambda Pi Eta honor society. Lindsey is passionate about building lasting connections between communities to create lasting change and believes that communication is a vital element to building long-lasting relationships. When she is out of the office, Lindsey enjoys singing and playing the piano, going on adventures, traveling to new locations, and reading books about world affairs.

Telehealth is not appropriate for every medical concern, so it’s important to ask your provider whether a virtual visit is suitable for your needs.

Learn more about Telehealth

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.