UVA sunbeds: tanning, photoprotection, acute adverse effects and immunological changes

Authors


Dr J.L.M. Hawk.

SUMMARY

The effects on 31 normal subjects following exposure to sunbeds containing UVA lamps with minimal UVB emission have been compared in a double-blind study with the effects on nine control subjects of a similar exposure course three times weekly for 4 weeks to sunbeds emitting visible light. On previously untanned areas, all those subjects on active treatment developed a mild tan; in tanned areas they all developed a moderate tan, while all control subjects developed a minimal to mild tan. The mean protection factor against later UVB-induced erythema was 3.2±0.3 after the active course and 1.6±0.2 among the controls. Significantlsy more frequent adverse cutaneous effects for active subjects were pruritus, erythema, freckling, burning sensation, dryness and polymorphic light eruption. Cutaneous Langerhans cell numbers, and blood CD3+ (pan T-cell) and CD4+ (helper T-cell) lymphocyte subsets were reduced in both active and control groups. CD8+ (cytotoxic/suppressor T-cell) counts were significantly reduced in both groups. The changes found in both groups seem attributable to small amounts of UVB emission from both active and control lamps.

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