Advances in Photoprotection

Elma D. Baron, MD; Eugene B. Kirkland, BS; Diana Santo Domingo, MD

Disclosures

Dermatology Nursing. 2008;20(4):265-273. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Major advancements in the realm of photoprotection have occurred over the last decade providing potential means to reduce the prevalence of ultraviolet radiation-related skin problems. This review elucidates current photoprotective methods and recent developments that may hold future promise.

In an era of increased cancer awareness and a focus on disease prevention, photoprotection has taken on new significance. Studies have linked ultraviolet radiation (UVR) to photoaging, skin cancer, immunosuppression, and exacerbation of certain photosensitive disorders. UVB (290-320 nm) has almost always been at the center of attention because of its well-established role in carcino-genesis and ability to produce erythema (Verschooten, Claerhout, Van Laethem, Agostinis, & Garmyn, 2006). On unprotected skin, sunburns from UVB typically occur 4 hours post-exposure and peak within 24 hours. However, most incident sunlight is composed of UVA (320-400 nm), which is much less erythemagenic. In fact, 1,000 times more UVA is required to cause sunburn when compared with UVB (Kullavanijaya & Lim, 2005). Tanning is the more common result of UVA exposure, explaining its prominent role in the tanning industry. This lack of visible erythema can be deceptive because many of UVB's deleterious effects are shared by UVA.

Much still remains to be explored regarding the specific spectra responsible for each of UVR's damaging effects (Lim et al., 2001). Therefore, the need for broad protection against UVR deserves emphasis. Fortunately, major advancements in the realm of photoprotection have occurred over the last decade providing potential means to reduce the prevalence of UVR-related skin problems. In this review, the current methods of UV protection, along with recent progress in the field, are described.

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