Whether you are exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays or an indoor tanning bed, tan skin is a sign that your skin has been damaged. As this skin damage builds, you increase your risk of many skin conditions including several types of skin cancer.
Can Tanning Harm You?
Tanning in the sun or indoor tanning can cause many skin conditions:
It is important to have proper protection when exposed to UV rays to avoid burning your skin. This includes staying in the shade, wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen.
UV exposure can quickly age the skin, causing wrinkles, toughening of the skin and a leather-like appearance.
Years of UV exposure can increase pigment production of the skin causing a blotchy complexion.
This common skin condition occurs most often in women when UV exposure causes melanocytes to make more pigment in the skin creating dark brown patches on the skin. This condition can also be seen in pregnant women as hormones can trigger this skin discoloration.
Actinic keratoses are common skin growths which are considered to be precancerous. These growths can be very hard to see but have a rough texture and can be itchy. They are caused by years of sun exposure or tanning beds. If left untreated, these growths can turn into skin cancer.
Although those with lighter skin have a higher risk of skin cancer, skin cancer can affect people of all colors. More than 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. When detected early and treated properly, skin cancer is highly treatable. If left untreated, however, skin cancer can be disfiguring or even deadly. It is recommended to have skin exams performed at least once a year to monitor for any lesions that could be concerning for skin cancer.
Is Indoor Tanning Safer Than Natural Sunlight?
There is no such thing as a “safe” tan. Indoor tanning equipment exposes your skin to the same harmful UV rays as the sun. Your risk of melanoma actually increases by 59% when you use indoor tanning beds before the age of 35, your risk increases after every use.
Indoor tanning can also cause damage such as burns, loss of consciousness and eye damage including burns or inflamed corneas which could in turn cost you a trip to the emergency room.
How Do I Protect Myself From UV Exposure?
Avoid direct sunlight in between the hours of 10am and 2pm as this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING.
Wear clothing such as long sleeves, wide- brimmed hats and sunglasses when possible.
Even on cloudy days, sunlight can still be harmful to your skin. It is important to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin when spending time outdoors. Remember to reapply about every two hours especially after swimming or sweating.
USE EXTRA CAUTION NEAR WATER, SNOW AND SAND.
These can reflect and intensify sunlight, increasing your risk of a sunburn.
AVOID TANNING BEDS.
UV light from the sun and tanning beds can cause early signs of aging and skin cancer. If you want to look tan, consider using self tanning products.