Injury to the skin and underlying tissues from acute exposure to a large external dose of radiation is referred to as cutaneous radiation injury (CRI). Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) 1 will usually be accompanied by some skin damage; however, CRI can occur without symptoms of ARS. This is especially true with acute exposures to beta radiation or low-energy x-rays, because beta radiation and low-energy x-rays are less penetrating and less likely to damage internal organs than gamma radiation is. CRI can occur with radiation doses as low as 2 Gray (Gy) or 200 rads 2 and the severity of CRI symptoms will increase with increasing doses. Most cases of CRI have occurred when people inadvertently came in contact with unsecured radiation sources from food irradiators, radiotherapy equipment, or well depth gauges. In addition, cases of CRI have occurred in people who were overexposed to x-radiation from fluoroscopy units.
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