[Effect of long-wave ultraviolet light (UV-A) and medium-wave ultraviolet rays (UV-B) on human skin. Critical comparison]

Z Hautkr. 1980 Apr 15;55(8):497-513.
[Article in German]


When discussing the effects of ultraviolet radiation on human skin, one should carefully distinguish between the long wave ultraviolet light (UV-A) and the short wave radiations (UV-B and UV-C). Ultraviolet A induces immediate pigmentation but, if high energies are applied, a permanent pigmentation is elicited. This type of ultraviolet A-induced pigmentation has been called "spontaneous" pigmentation as no erythematous reaction is necessary to induce or accelerate melanine formation. Ultraviolet B provokes erythema and consecutive pigmentation. Upon chronic exposure, ultraviolet B causes the wellknown actinic damage of the skin and even provokes carcinoma. With exposures to the sunlight (global radiation), one should be most careful. The public must be informed extensively about the dangers of excessive sunbaths. The use of artificial "suns" with spectra between 260 and 400 nm is limited as it may cause the same type of damage as the global radiation. An exact schedule for use of artificial lamps is strongly recommended. After one cycle of exposures, an interruption is necessary until the next cycle of irradiations may start. Upon continual use for tanning of the skin, artificial lamps may provoke irreversible damage of the skin. Radiation sources with emission spectra of wavelengths between 315 and 400 nm exclusively are well suited for the induction of skin pigmentation (cosmetic use). Potent radiation such as UVASUN systems provoke a "pleasant" permanent pigmentation after exposures for less than one hour. The use of ultraviolet A (UV-A) does not carry any risk for the human skin.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Erythema / physiopathology
  • Furocoumarins / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced
  • Nucleoproteins / metabolism
  • Photochemotherapy
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Amino Acids
  • Enzymes
  • Furocoumarins
  • Nucleoproteins