Can Light Be Used to Kill Coronavirus on the Skin?
Ultraviolet C light has been all over the news recently, as researchers have found that it can work as an effective surface disinfectant against the novel coronavirus. However, it is not safe to shine on the skin and will not ever be used to treat or prevent COVID-19 on the human body. The confusion likely arose out of the news of UVC’s effectiveness to kill coronavirus on medical equipment. I have been asked alot about this lately so I wanted to clarify the science for you.
In short: UVC light can be very dangerous and should only be used in a controlled environment in order to disinfect medical equipment and other essential items needed to combat COVID-19. It cannot be used on the human body or skin.
Here’s what you need to know about UVC light.
Three Facts to Know about UVC Light
1. UVC does not reach the earth’s surface.
There are two types of UV light emitted by the sun that reach the earth: UVA and UVB rays. While the sun also emits UVC rays, these wavelengths of light do not reach the earth’s surface. This is because UVC rays have the shortest wavelengths and are absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer before ever reaching the surface.
Therefore, when we discuss the use of sunscreen to protect our skin against UV light, we are solely talking about UVA and UVB rays. UVC light can only be generated on earth through human-made processes. Lying out in the sun will not expose your body to UVC light.
2. UVC is much more dangerous than UVA or UVB.
UVC rays are the most dangerous type of ultraviolet light, even more so than UVA and UVB. If exposed to the skin, UVC light can cause severe burns and is a known carcinogen to human skin. It can also damage the corneas of your eyes if you look at UVC light directly.
While the sun is not a source of UVC light here on earth, people who work with items such as welding torches and mercury lamps could be exposed to this type of light. This is why it is imperative that welders wear a proper face shield and other important protective equipment when working. If you use a UVC lamp on your skin, you will burn extremely fast. Never do this.
3. UVC light has been shown to inactivate coronavirus.
Researchers from around the world are continuing to develop special ultraviolet lights that harness the power of UVC to deactivate the novel coronavirus known to cause COVID-19. However, this technology is only used to disinfect surfaces such as personal protective equipment, respirators, and rooms and floors in medical settings. Past studies have found that UVC light can reach a level of 99.9% sterilization of coronavirus within 30 seconds.
Can UVC Light Be Used to Disinfect Skin?
No! UVC light is very dangerous and should never be used on the skin or eyes. Even when very briefly exposed to the skin, UVC light can cause burns and other severe damage. Researchers are currently looking for ways to implement UVC disinfectant systems within medical settings in order to deactivate viruses while no one is present.
UVC sterilization of respirators, hospital rooms, and personal protective equipment could be a breakthrough for coronavirus treatment and prevention. However, UVC light can be very dangerous and harmful if used improperly and should never be used to attempt to disinfect hands or other parts of the human body.
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