Sunbeds provide few advantages for those looking to get a glowing tan. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) lists sunbeds among the world's highest cancer risks. Sunbeds were found to increase the risk of melanoma by 75 per cent for those ages 35 and under. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by sunbeds can not only lead to cancer of the skin and mouth, but it can also cause sunburn and rash. Precautions are key to using sunbeds safely and reducing the potential health risks.
Wear proper eye protection. Purchase a pair of well-fitting tanning goggles from a salon to prevent UV rays from causing eye damage. If you don't have eye protection or have forgotten it, ask the staff at the salon. Tanning salons are required by federal law to provide sanitised eye protection to guests at all times. According to the Eye Specialists of Ohio, using a sunbed without eye protection puts users at risk for cornea burns, cancer of the eyelids and surrounding skin, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Limit your amount of time in the sunbed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests spending only the minimum amount of time necessary for a tan to develop. Wait at least 24 to 48 hours between sessions and once you're tan, wait at least one week, and as many as two or three weeks, before going back. First-time sunbed users should never go the maximum recommended time, as this increases the risk of burn. Always ask the staff if the bulbs in the sunbed are new. If so, the time spent in the bed should be decreased even more, as their intensity will be even greater.
Protect the face and lips. Many sunbed users apply lotion to help accelerate their tans and get darker. If you choose to use a lotion, don't use it on your face. The face tans differently from the rest of the body and lotions designed for the body can irritate the face. Those with sensitive skin should be especially aware not to use a body lotion on their face, as it can cause an allergic reaction and rash.
Take special care to protect your lips by using lip balm. Your lips don't produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour and helps it to tan. But though lips don't tan, they can still burn. Before using a sunbed, apply lip balm with sunscreen. Use the lip balm again when out of the bed, to help keep your lips moisturised.
Check your medication list. According to Quality Health, there are certain prescription medications that react negatively with the UV rays from sunbeds. These include birth control pills, antidepressants, antibiotics and acne medications. With these and other medications, the skin becomes more sensitive to UV light, increasing the risk of a sunburn or rash. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to determine if any of your medications, including creams and lotions, heighten photosensitivity.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Consumer Updates: Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet Radiation
- Eye Specialists of Ohio: Ultraviolet light (UV) Radiation
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Tanning: Tanning Products
- Planet Tan: Tanning Truth
- Kids Health: Word! Melanin
- Tanning Simple: Face Tanning Lotion
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images