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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Radiation-Emitting Products

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Description of UV Exposure Pictures (Accessible Text)

This is an animation showing the effects of tanning. First, the drawing shows a person’s face and its reaction to sunlight. The animation shows the skin becoming darker and browner from prolonged exposure to UV radiation.

Next, the animation zooms in on a close-up of the left side of the person’s face. This view makes it easier to see the effects of UV radiation on a portion of the skin.

To the right of person’s face, the animation shows what you would see if you could view the skin layers. Think of a rectangle pressed on the surface of the skin. Now if this rectangle was pushed through the skin it would form a cube cutout known as a cross section. The cross section shows the top layer of skin, the epidermis, and the layer beneath it, the dermis.

Next, the animation shows two types of UV rays, UV-A and UV-B, penetrating the layers of skin in the cross section. UV-B rays penetrate the top layer of the skin and the UV-A rays penetrate deeper into the skin, reaching the dermis.

The next drawing is similar to the previous one explaining that UV-B rays are most often responsible for causing sunburns, while exposure to UV-A rays cause the skin to age and wrinkle prematurely. UV-A rays are usually used in tanning salons.

The animation next shows sunlight hitting the skin in the form of UV radiation. The color of the skin becomes redder as it becomes inflamed and sunburned from overexposure to UV rays.

The next part of the animation shows one of the long term side effects of overexposure to UV radiation: age spots. The age spots are shown as medium to dark brown circular patches on the skin.

The next frame shows premature aging and wrinkling of the skin, another long term side effect of UV radiation. The skin on the person’s face slowly changes from a smooth brown to a wrinkled texture. The cross section of skin shows the top layer becoming ridged and forming wrinkles. The animation explains that prolonged UV exposure damages the supportive tissues of the skin, causing it to lose its elasticity and wrinkle prematurely.

The animation next shows abnormal skin cell growth in the form of skin cancer. The animation explains that abnormal skin cells occur when UV radiation alter the DNA of skin cells. The result is abnormal skin cell growth that can increase the risk of skin cancer. To the right of the person’s face, the cross section of the skin now contains an asymmetrical black mark which penetrates the top layer of skin. This abnormal skin cell growth is shown on the person’s face as a deep dark mark with lightly shaded boundaries.