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Semin Dermatol. 1990 Mar;9(1):11-5.

Acute effects of ultraviolet radiation on the skin.

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  • Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10016.


The responses of normal skin to ultraviolet (UV) irradiation are an example of inflammation. The chromophores initiating the reaction are unknown. Characteristic clinical findings are erythema, heat, swelling, and pain. Histopathologic changes include epidermal keratinocyte damage with Langerhans cell depletion and dermal edema, endothelial swelling, mast cell degranulation, and cellular infiltration with neutrophils and monocytes. Biochemical changes include release of histamine, cyclo-oxygenase, and lipoxygenase-derived products of arachidonic acid, kinins, and cytokines, probably from a range of epidermal and dermal cell types. These substances very likely assist in mediation of the reaction. The response is more pronounced in young subjects. UVB (280 to 315 nm) and UVA (315 to 400 nm) radiation both produce inflammation, but with marked qualitative and quantitative differences. UVB having more effect on the epidermis, UVA more on the dermis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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