Every year, thousands of women (and some men) flock to tanning beds to help get a winter glow or get a head start on their summer tan. However, this practice can lead to serious burns, a risk which often goes underestimated.
Most tanning bed burns are mild, first degree burns that leave the skin red and tender. However, overuse of tanning beds can lead to serious second and third degree burns that require medical attention. And even minor burns, when repeated over and over again, can cause serious skin problems if you are not careful. Here is a look at some of the risks associated with tanning beds, as well as what you can do to protect yourself.
The most serious risk of repeated overexposure to tanning beds is skin cancer. The younger you start using a tanning bed and the more often you burn, the higher the risk you are of developing skin cancer and other related problems. With so many teenagers now turning to tanning beds, more and more young adults are being diagnosed with melanoma. On top of this, if protective goggles are not worn when in the tanning bed, permanent damage can be done to the corneas of the eyes, leading to damaged sight. Another risk involves premature aging. While many younger people think that evenly bronzed skin is beautiful, over time the repeated sun or tanning bed exposure can cause them to have more noticeable wrinkles and sagging skin.
It is not unusual for tanning bed users to intentionally burn themselves slightly, since they think that this will help their skin bronze faster. However, the actual opposite is true. While you may see more tanned skin after the burn heals, this overexposure destroys the melanin that gives you the darker color. With time, this decrease in melanin can actually make it more difficult to tan.
If avoiding tanning all together is not an option for you, here is a look at some of the things that you can do to help make tanning beds safer.
Only stay in the tanning bed the recommended amount of time. If you are unsure how long this time is, ask the attendant for assistance. As a general rule, the fairer you are the less time you should spend in the tanning booth, especially until you have built up a base tan. The slower you build up a tan, the less likely you are to burn, and the longer and healthier your tan will be.
Use tanning lotion. The main ingredient in most tanning lotions, tyrosine, actually helps your body to produce more melanin. This will resort in a faster and deeper tan with less time in the tanning beds.
Always wear eye protection when in the tanning bed.
Keep in mind that just because you are tan does not mean that you are protected by the sun. You should always wear a sunscreen when going outdoors to prevent serious burns. Avoid outdoor tanning while you are doing indoor tanning so that you do not become seriously burned.