A UV lamp is a lamp specifically designed to emit light at the ultraviolet wavelength, which is generally not able to be seen by humans without special equipment. A UV lamp may do so in a number of different ways. For example, it is possible it will also produce visible light, but it can also operate using a black light.
The UV lamp can be used for a number of different purposes. In terrariums, these lamps are used so that plants and animals, especially reptiles, get enough of the required UV light they may need each day. Traditional artificial lighting may not offer enough light at the UV wavelength. If not, then plants which require UV light may begin to suffer.
They also have an entertainment value as well. At amusement parks and other places, an ultraviolet lamp can be used as a black light to create unusual glowing effects. These effects can also help reflect very vibrant colors, which have glowing phosphors that often react with invisible UV light.
A fluorescent ultraviolet lamp has an application as a tanning tool as well. Many tanning beds use such lamps to give artificial tans because UV light is what actually tans the skin in the natural environment. However, the tanning beds can offer UV light at a much higher concentration, thus quickening the time it takes to receive the desired tan level.
In addition to these entertainment and cosmetic applications, a UV lamp can also be used as a treatment tool for a number of different illnesses. While most UV light therapeutic tools are considered alternative forms of medicine, the use of an ultraviolet lamp, or lamps, to treat seasonal affective disorder, a mental illness, has been accepted in many mainstream practices. The theory behind the treatment for the seasonal disorder is that humans also need a certain amount of UV light and that may not be available in sufficient quantities during the winter months when people tend to spend less time outdoors and the days are shorter.
Those who are around UV lamps often should use some caution. The rays from this lamp can be just as harmful as the sun's rays if overexposure occurs. This could result in sunburn, premature aging of the skin and even skin cancer. The danger is especially potent for those who use tanning beds, according to the American Medical Association, which states that the beds do increase the risk for cancer.