Are Tanning Beds Safe for the Skin? | Biodermis

Are Tanning Beds Safe for the Skin? |

Millions of people in the U.S. use indoor tanning beds every year. While there are a disproportionate number of young women who use tanning beds, more and more men are seeking to obtain that perfect skin glow. What a lot of people want to know is if tanning beds are safe for the skin. All of the science seems to suggest that they are not safe, and the evidence is clear. So why do people continue to use them? In this article, we will go over why tanning beds are unsafe and why they are still so popular despite the contrary evidence.

Skin cancer

Despite common understanding, tanning beds are not a safer alternative to natural sunlight. According to scientific studies, tanning beds can increase the chance of developing melanoma. Other types of skin cancer that can result include squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. These risks are serious enough that the FDA requires indoor tanning equipment to display labels warning the public about the health effects. Skin cancer is usually easy to treat if caught early on but melanoma spreads more quickly than other types so getting regular checkups at a dermatologist is vital for your health.  

Early signs of aging

In addition to skin cancer, tanning beds are also associated with signs of early aging. People who frequently tan develop wrinkles, age spots, and loss of skin integrity faster than people who don’t tan. This makes sense because tanning causes damage to skin cells which produce collagen, elastin, and other structural proteins. These proteins are responsible for lending skin its elasticity and tensile strength. When the cells can’t produce enough of these proteins, our skin begins to show signs of wear and tear.

Scar tissue and hyperpigmentation

While everyone should avoid using tanning beds, people with scar tissue must be extra careful. Scar tissue is less resistant to the light emitted by tanning beds and it can cause the scar to change color. Hyperpigmentation, a condition that causes skin patches to become darker, is much more prominent in scar tissue because scars don’t contain many of the protective cells found in healthy skin. People who tan regularly are at a much high risk for hyperpigmentation, especially if they have a scar. Scars from surgery or injury can take up to a year to fully heal, so it’s best to hold off on any tanning until after then. You can use silicone gel to help your scars fade more quickly.  

In summation, tanning isn’t safe for anyone because it causes damage to the cells on the outermost layer of the skin. Experts agree that not tanning at all is the safest way to reduce skin cancer and other harmful effects. If you must tan, then do so outside while wearing a generous amount of sunscreen (30 SPF or higher). Regular checkups with your dermatologist to check for skin cancer are advised, especially when you get older.


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