Indoor tanning has grown over the past few decades into a large industry. Every year, over $2.5 billion dollars are spent on indoor tanning. Approximately 28 million people tan indoors in the United States and many of these indoor tanners are teenagers.
The indoor tanning equipment works by mimicking the ultraviolet light emitted by the sun. In some cases the intensity of the light is similar to that of the sun, and in others it may be stronger. It is a scientific fact that ultraviolet light will damage DNA and that DNA changes can eventually lead to skin cancers.
Studies have found up to a 75% increase in the risk of developing melanoma in those who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning. Although people of all ages are at risk, melanoma commonly afflicts the young and middle aged. Melanoma is the most common cancer in young adults aged 20-30, is the leading cause of cancer death for women aged 25-30, and is the second most common cause of cancer death for women aged 30-35 (second only to breast cancer). In addition, indoor tanning increases the risk of developing other types of skin cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. People who use indoor tanning salons are nearly 70% more likely to develop a basal cell skin cancer before the age of 40.
Because of this information, both the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared ultraviolet radiation to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance), regardless of whether the ultraviolet light comes from the sun or from artificial sources such as tanning beds.
In addition to increasing the risk of developing skin cancer, ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning may also lead to premature aging of the skin. For all of these reasons, Dr. Amerian and Dr. Anterasian wish to strongly remind our patients to abstain from the use of tanning salons. The risks are simply not worth the benefits. If one of our patients wishes to have the appearance of a suntan, then a spray-on tan is a much safer way to go. Self-tanning lotions or spray-on tans are the only safe way to achieve a tan look.
Sunless tanning lotions and sprays contain dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. The DHA interacts with the proteins in the skin to produce the appearance of a tan. Although early formulations of self-tanners produced an orange appearing hue in the skin, recent technological advances have resulted in more realistic looking results.
It is important to remember that the skin color produced by a self-tanner does not provide adequate sun protection for your skin, so be sure to continue to generously apply a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Summer has arrived. The days are longer, and the sun’s light is much stronger. Although all of us enjoy our beautiful sunny weather, it is very important, especially at this time of year, to take appropriate precautions and protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Please remember that the single most important factor in preventing skin cancer is limiting your exposure to the sun. Here are some tips you can use to protect your skin this summer and all year long.
Always use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30, and remember to reapply it every two hours or after working, swimming, playing, or exercising outdoors. Use a sun block with a broad-spectrum formulation, which filters out both UVA and UVB light.
We especially like sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are physical sunscreens that work by preventing the sunlight from reaching the skin. They are inert compounds that have unparalleled safety, have a negligible rate of allergic reactions, and provide both UVA and UVB protection.
Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 20-30 minutes before going outdoors so that the sunscreen absorbs into the skin prior to the sun exposure. Make sure you use enough sunscreen. One ounce, which is enough to fill a shot glass, is considered to be the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. In general, people often use an insufficient amount of sunscreen.
Use a lip balm with at least SPF 15 on the lips. Sunscreens should be reapplied every two to three hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even water resistant sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 80 minutes or so in the water.
Wear sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet light. This will protect against cataracts and other eye damage.
Wear a wide brim hat with a 3-inch minimum brim. This provides good sun protection to your eyes, ears, face, and the back of your neck.
Limit your exposure to the midday sun, as the sun’s rays are strongest between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
Seek shade. Shade is a good source of protection.
Cover up. A good way to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays is by wearing tightly woven, loose fitting, and full-length protective clothing. Protective clothing includes long pants, long skirts, and long sleeved shirts. An easy way to test for the amount of sun protection in an article of clothing is to hold it up to a window and see how much light passes through the fabric. If a lot of light passes through, the clothing will not provide adequate sun protection, and a more opaque fabric should be worn.
Lastly, do not go to tanning salons. The ultraviolet light that is used in the salons will damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma. If you wish to have an immediate tan, a spray-on tan is a much safer way to go.
By taking these appropriate precautions, we can all enjoy our summer and still protect our skin from the sun.