Go with Your Own Glow: The Problem with Tanning

You think that a little color on your skin is fine, right? That it gives you a healthy “glow” and helps keep your skin clear. A quick trip to the tanning salon can’t wreak too much havoc on your skin, right? Wrong. Sadly, those urban myths and misconceptions may seem to help control your breakouts and make you appear healthier, but the reality is that you are actually hurting your skin more than you are helping it.

Whether you prefer to tan in your backyard with nothing but tanning oil or you frequent a neighborhood tanning salon, you greatly increase your risk of developing skin cancer at a young age. A study conducted by the Skin Cancer Foundation shows that 30 million Americans use tanning salons regularly, fueling a $5 billion industry, and that teens and young adults readily choose to tan. Studies also show that routine use of a tanning bed can increase chances of developing melanoma, the most fatal type of skin cancer.

While developing melanoma is the most serious risk of tanning, prolonged exposure to UV rays will lead to premature skin aging, wrinkles, and brown spots. While these severe effects are more evident among those who routinely use tanning salons, skin damage can occur from any tan, whether you get it from a tanning bed or when you’re at the beach. With the heaviest tanning salon usage coming from young adults, ages 25-29 year olds, today’s young adults run a greater risk of developing critical health concerns later in life.

What can you do to prevent skin damage and from developing skin cancer? Here are just a few tips that will help you preserve the natural state of your skin.

• Stop tanning.

• Always use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

• Apply a facial moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher.

• Apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to your body 30 minutes before going outside and apply every two hours after that.

• Wear a hat and loose clothing to cover your skin when you know you’ll be in the sun for long periods of time.

• Avoid getting a burn.

• Examine your skin, head to toe, once a month to check for signs of skin cancer.

• Try a sunless tanning product often found in drug and grocery stores.

For many years, society praised and idolized celebrities with bronze skin and we equated a tan to affluence, beauty and good health. But as research continues to prove that tan skin is anything but healthy, more and more celebrities are choosing not to tan and accentuate their naturally fair skin.

Make the decision for yourself and start making safe and healthy choices for your skin today. For more information on how to protect your skin or if you think you may need to consult with a dermatologist, contact Anne Arundel Dermatology to schedule your appointment.

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