Optical Radiation Hazards to the Skin

  • David Sliney
  • Myron Wolbarsht


Laser radiation injury to the skin is normally considered secondary to injury of the eye despite the fact that thresholds of injury to the skin and eye are comparable except in the retinal hazard region (400–1400 nm). In the far-infrared and the ultraviolet spectral regions where optical radiation is not focused on the retina, skin injury thresholds are approximately the same as corneal injury thresholds. The probability of exposure of the skin is greater than for the eye because of the skin’s greater surface area, and yet we still consider injury to the eye of greater significance. Threshold injuries resulting from short exposure to the skin from far-infrared (IR-C) and UV-C radiation are also very superficial and may only involve changes to the outer dead layer—the “horny layer”—of the skin cells. A temporary injury to the skin may be painful if sufficiently severe; but eventually it will heal, often without any sign of the injury. Injury to larger areas of skin are far more serious as they may lead to serious loss of body fluids, toxemia, and systemic infections.


Heat Stress Human Skin Stratum Corneum Ultraviolet Radiation Action Spectrum 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Sliney
    • 1
  • Myron Wolbarsht
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene AgencyAberdeen Proving GroundUSA
  2. 2.Duke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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