Back at the Tanning Salon…

 As we approach that time of year when the days are shorter and the sun’s presence is far and few between, business at the tanning salon is BOOMING!

It is no secret that having a nice tan makes us feel like a million bucks, particularly in those dreary months when we can’t just go outside for a touch of that natural Vitamin D. What may not be so clear however, is that “tan” glow our skin gets after exposure to UV rays is the skin’s natural defense against it. A skin “reaction”, if you will.

You may have heard that tanning beds are no safer than tanning outdoors. Or perhaps you are under the misconception that indoor tanning is safer. The truth is, neither is safe. It has long been argued by the indoor tanning industry that artificial UV exposure is actually safer than UV exposure from the Sun. The claim states that while the sun exposes your skin to both UVA and UVB rays, tanning beds are made to emit mainly UVA rays (97%) and only (3%) UVB rays. What makes this claim so alluring, according to them, is that UVB rays are “burning” rays which cause the most damage, we can see, anyway.

The truth!?! While UVB rays are BURNING rays responsible for that red sunburn on the surface of the skin, UVA rays are referred to as AGING rays. These rays penetrate the deeper layers of the skin causing premature aging, contribute to and even initiate the development of skin cancer.

It is now a known fact that individuals who use tanning beds are 74% more likely to develop melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, particularly if used before the age of 35. The more time spent tanning indoors, the greater the risk.

As if this one fact isn’t enough to sway you away from the tanning salon there are numerous skin conditions that can be contracted from a tanning bed. I cannot begin to tell you how many past students of mine had stories about skin conditions they had contracted from visiting a tanning salon!

Ringworm, fungal infections, and yeast infections are among the most common. Tinea Versicolor, known to most as sun spots, is a form of yeast infection and one of the most contracted and contagious skin conditions. They typically have no color on non-tanned skin and as soon as the skin is exposed to UV light they appear white in color in comparison to the rest of the (tanned) skin. The yeast basically blocks the ability for the skin to tan in the effected areas.

While tanning salons are required to use disinfecting sprays on the tanning beds after each use, you can never be sure if they were sanitized properly. Not to mention, heated lamps + sweaty body = perfect environment for bacteria and fungus to grow.

A less than attractive fact… 95% of tanning bed users tan nude.

Moles, freckles, and hyperpigmentation are all forms of sun damage. Don’t take for granted that if something is not bothersome or causing you pain in some way that it is nothing to worry about. Check your moles periodically and use the ABCDE’s of skin cancer as a guide to note any changes. I encourage EVERYONE to see a Dermatologist at least once a year (every 6 months if you have a family history of melanoma).  In 2009, melanoma was responsible for almost 9,000 deaths in the U.S., alone. Don’t become a statistic.

Effective July 1st, 2010… A 10% Tax will also be added to your tanning experience.


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