UVA and UVB Rays: What’s the Difference?

Breanna Veal, PA-C explains: UVA and UVB Rays: What’s the Difference?


It feels nice to relax in the sun. But it’s not so nice for your skin. In fact, being out in the sun’s harmful rays can increase your risk of skin cancer.

Protect yourself from ultraviolet (UV) rays, a kind of radiation comes from the sun. There are different types of UV rays, which also can come from tanning beds and sunlamps. They can penetrate and change your skin’s cells.

UVA and UVB are two types of UV rays:

  • UVA – This is the most common kind of sunlight at the earth’s surface and penetrates your skin more deeply than UVB rays, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These rays can increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • UVB – Most of these rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, so they are less common on the earth’s surface than UVA rays. These rays do not reach as far into skin as UVA rays, but they can still damage skin, according to the CDC.

Too much exposure to UV rays can change your skin’s texture, cause skin to age faster and cause skin cancer, according to the CDC.

Ask your doctor how you can protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays.

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