Ultra Violet (UV) – Light Treatment

Ultraviolet (UV) Light is electromagnetic radiation, which has a wavelength range shorter than that of visible light, and is therefore invisible.

It is divided into three regions, called UVA, UVB, and UVC, each of which has its own properties and hazards. The purpose of Ultraviolet (UV) light treatment is to acquire a tanned appearance. The melanin in the epidermis protects underlying tissues from radiation damage by UV rays. Sunburn, conjunctivitis and possibly cataracts may result from overexposure to all types of UV light. Skin cancer is also associated with excess exposure to UV light (including sunlight) by those with sensitive skins.

• UVA (Wavelength 400-320NM) will pass through ordinary glass, quartz glass and plastic. These
penetrate the skin most deeply, reaching to the lower dermis can produce premature ageing of
the skin.
• UVB (Wavelength 320-290NM) will pass through quartz glass and plastic, but not through
ordinary glass. They penetrate only as far as the deepest layers of the epidermis (stratum
basale). The development of skin cancers and thickening of the epidermis can result from
• UVC (Wavelength 290-100NM) will pass through quartz glass but not through ordinary glass or
plastic. These wavelengths only penetrate the outermost layers of the epidermis.


• UV light is applied in beauty treatment to produce a ‘suntan’, either over the whole body (solarium/sunbed) or for the face (individual tanning unit).
• UV light is applied in physiotherapy for the treatment of skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.
• ‘Puva’ is a concentrated form of UV treatment applied in short high intensity pulses, when clients receive a stronger dose for a shorter period. The length of time that a user is allocated to use the solarium/sunbeds all be controlled by the operator, based on the user’s type of skin, power of the solarium/sunbed, and age of the tubes.

Note: First time exposure must be limited to the minimum time and only increased gradually on subsequent exposures, provided no adverse reaction is experienced.
Operators must not claim that use of sunbeds has a health benefit. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has advised leisure centre operators to phase out sunbeds, owing to increasing caution over exposure to UV light and its link with increasing incidence of skin cancer.


UV tanning is inadvisable for the following categories of clients:
• Fair, sensitive skin
• Lots of freckles or moles, often associated with red hair
• People with a family history of skin cancer
• Pregnant women
• Hypersensitive skin prone to sunburn
• Susceptible to cold sores (Herpes simplex infection)
• Clients taking drugs which cause photosensitivity, eg: tetracycline.


• The length of the treatment should be related to previous exposure to UV radiation and to the client’s skin type. The HSE recommends a maximum of 20 solarium/sunbed sessions per year. Users shall be advised when they have reached this number and no further treatment provided
• Minimum of 24hr between treatments
• Keep records of individual client usage
• Remove contact lenses
• Goggles should be worn by both the client and the operator. Cotton wool pads or sunglasses provide insufficient protection from reflected radiation. The goggles should be cleaned between clients
• Creams or perfume can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation. Wash off cosmetics and deodorants before using the sunbed
• Clean the surface of horizontal beds between clients, or provide a single use sheet. Vertical booths should be provided with single use mats to stand on
• UV light sources (tubes) should be changed at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer
• Users of solariums/sunbeds shall have access to an immediately audible emergency alarm
device. The responsible person shall ensure an immediate response to such alarms.