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From Bronzed to Burned: Exploring the Risks of Indoor Tanning

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Tanning lamps, booths, and beds have gained popularity as a means of achieving a year-round tan. However, it is crucial to be aware that the effects of these indoor tanning devices can pose significant health concerns, comparable to tanning outdoors. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by these devices carries multiple risks, including eye injuries, skin burns, premature skin aging, and the development of skin cancer, including the potentially deadly melanoma.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emphasizes that exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds, heightens the risk of experiencing these health effects. While advocates argue that indoor tanning offers controlled intensity and timing, the FDA stresses that there is no evidence supporting these claims. In fact, sunlamps can be more hazardous than natural sunlight, as they maintain a consistently high intensity year-round, unlike the sun, which varies in intensity based on time of day, season, and cloud cover.

If you plan to use an indoor tanning device, it is important to be informed. Here are some key points to consider:

1.      Protect your eyes: Failure to wear appropriate protective eyewear, such as goggles, can result in short- and long-term eye injuries.

2.      Start gradually: Begin with short exposure times to gradually build up a tan over time.

3.      Avoid overexposure: Prolonged exposure, approaching the maximum time recommended for the sunlamp product, can lead to burns. Keep in mind that sunburn may take several hours to manifest, so you may not realize your skin is burned until it is too late.

4.      Moderation is key: Once a tan is developed, limit your tanning sessions to no more than once a week. Depending on your skin type, you may even be able to maintain your tan with one exposure every 2-3 weeks.

5.      Be aware of medication interactions: Tanning while using certain medications or cosmetics can increase sensitivity to UV radiation. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

Recognizing the amplified risks faced by individuals aged 18 and younger, the FDA has implemented special precautions. All indoor tanning devices are required to have warning labels explicitly stating that they are not to be used by anyone under the age of 18. As UV light exposure accumulates over time, it escalates the risk of skin and eye damage in children and teenagers as they transition into adulthood. Moreover, failure to wear protective eyewear can result in both short- and long-term eye injuries. In light of these concerns, the FDA is currently proposing a regulation aimed at safeguarding children by restricting the usage of indoor tanning devices to adults aged 18 and above. This proposed rule may also require indoor tanning facilities to educate adult users about the associated health risks and obtain a signed risk acknowledgement.

The FDA stresses the importance of limiting sun exposure and diligently applying sunscreen, particularly for children, as these practices can help prevent skin damage from a young age.

In light of the increased risks associated with indoor tanning, it is highly recommended to consult your doctor for more information. Safeguarding your health and well-being should always be a top priority.

Note: The content has been edited and restructured for publication purposes, focusing on clarity, coherence, and maintaining a professional tone while addressing the risks and regulations surrounding indoor tanning.

Author: Manny Gonzalez-Brito, DO, LW CMO (LifeWallet Chief Medical Officer).

Disclaimer:

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medication, medical condition or treatment.

Sources: 

FDA Proposes New Safety Measures for Indoor Tanning Devices: The Facts | FDA

Sunlamps and Sunlamp Products (Tanning Beds/Booths) | FDA

Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet Rays | FDA

Tanning Products | FDA

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