Indoor Tanning: Is It Safer Than the Sun?
Many tanning salons misleadingly advertise that their tanning beds, booths, and lamps can provide users with a “safe” tan. However, there is only one way to safely achieve a golden glow, and that is to use a sunless tanning product. Furthermore, indoor tanning is actually even more dangerous than outdoor tanning. Here’s why:
When you spend time outdoors in the sun, your unprotected skin is exposed to a combination of ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB rays), each of which affects the skin differently. Specifically, UVB (burning) rays affect the outermost layers of the skin, damaging its DNA and producing sunburn. In contrast, UVA (aging) rays penetrate the skin much more deeply, stimulating its pigment cells to produce a tan color, as well as sun spots, lines, wrinkles, and other signs of premature aging. While both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer, UVA rays are more strongly linked to melanoma (the deadliest type of skin malignancy).
On the other hand, indoor tanning devices typically bombard the skin with UVA rays alone. Therefore, even though the skin is typically not visibly burned, it is being invisibly damaged. That’s because UVA rays penetrate the skin much more deeply than burning UVB rays.
The bottom line is this: After you’ve gotten a certain amount of outdoor sun exposure, your skin will start to burn, which will likely prompt you to either cover up or head inside. When tanning indoors, however, you may not be aware of the extent of the skin damage that has occurred until much later – sometimes after many years – when you begin to develop signs of UVA damage. Another point to remember is that both visible and invisible skin damage is cumulative, which means that it will continue to increase over time, especially if you have had multiple sunburns.
If you’d like to learn more about skin cancer and how to reduce your risk, you are welcome to talk with the medical professionals at South Tampa Immediate Care. Our office is conveniently located on 602 South Howard Avenue in South Tampa.