A “healthy glow” has been associated with having a tan, a current beauty standard that many of us strive to achieve. Unfortunately, this “healthy glow” is anything but healthy. Instead, tanning is a result of cell damage on your outermost layer of skin due to exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are an invisible form of electromagnetic radiation that is emitted from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. To protect itself from further UV radiation, the skin naturally produces melanin, the pigment that darkens our skin into a tan.
How Do Tanning Beds Work?
Indoor tanning beds work by emitting both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and are associated with skin aging and allergic reactions. UVB rays affect the top layers of the skin and are linked to sun burns.
In July 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, placed tanning beds into the highest cancer risk category: “carcinogenic to humans.”
Risks of Indoor Tanning
Premature aging: Indoor tanning causes the skin to lose elasticity, which leads to premature wrinkles.
Increased risk of cancer: Tanning beds significantly increase your risk at developing skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The risk of contracting skin melanoma increases by 75% when tanning bed use starts before the age of 35. Skin damage begins with your very first tan, as every time UV rays penetrate the skin, more genetic mutations are created.
Immune suppression: UVB radiation has been found to suppress the efficiency of the body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defenses, which leaves you more vulnerable to diseases.
Allergic reaction: For those who are especially sensitive to UV radiation, artificial UV rays from tanning beds may cause rashes and other adverse effects.
Eye damage: UV radiation can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, including ocular melanoma.
Alternatives to Indoor Tanning
There are safer alternatives to tanning beds, including:
- Spray-on tanning products
- Topical sunless tanning lotions
Contact ForCare Medical Center
ForCare Medical Center is dedicated to educating our patients on how to best care for their skin through prevention methods and custom treatment plans. To make a dermatology appointment at ForCare, or to learn more about how UV radiation is negatively affecting your skin, call (813) 773-2456 or click here.