The wellness resource center at UHCS provides information on tanning. Physicians and medical staff can also provide recommendations on skin care or concerns.
There is no such thing as a safe tan! Skin pigment (also called melanin), absorbs the energy of ultraviolet radiation (UV) and helps prevent harm to the skin cells. Tanning of the skin and the darkening of the melanin is a sign of damage.
Those who produce little mela¬nin are most at risk of skin cancer and other risks associated with tanning. Factors such as age, health, and skin type also determine how an individual will be affected by UV exposure. People over the age of 50 and under the age of 5 are generally more sensitive to the harmful effects of UV as well as those with immune deficiencies and chronic diseases
|Skin Type||Skin Color||Burning Affect|
|I||Pale White||Always burns - never tans|
|II||White to Light Beige||Burns easily - tans minimally|
|III||Beige||Burns moderately - tans gradually to light brown|
|IV||Light Brown (olive)||Burns minimally - tans well to moderately brown|
|V||Moderate Brown||Rarely burns - tans profusely to dark brown|
|VI||Dark Brown or Black||Never burns - tans profusely|
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, excessive or improper exposure to ultraviolet light can cause harmful changes in the skin and other organs.
The health risks include:
Skin Cancer: What you should watch for:
Any birthmark or mole that changes shape, color, size or surface
|A. Asymmetry - One half unlke the other
B. Border - Irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined.
C. Color - varied from one area to another in the same mole; shades of tan and brown, black and sometimes white, red or blue.
D. Diameter - larger than 6mm (larger than a pencil eraser).
E. Elevation - the mole is raised above the surface and has an uneven surface.
Make sure to take precautions at home or at the salon if you use sunless tanners. While these come in many different forms (like lotions, creams and sprays), it's really important that you follow all directions and make sure to not get any self-tanner in your eyes, nose or mouth.
If you use a sunless tanning booth, ask the tanning salon a couple of questions first:
- Will my eyes and the area surrounding them be protected?
- Will my nose, mouth, and ears be protected?
- Will I be protected from inhaling the tanning spray through my nose or mouth?
If the answer to any of these questions is 'no,' look for another salon. It's not worth risking your health to exposure to chemicals with potentially dangerous effects.
- Amanda Krentz, MPH