Ultraviolet radiation damages your skin and increases your risk for skin cancer. Although sunlamps and tanning beds promise you a healthy appearance you must be aware of the serious associated risks. Indoor tanning beds are a serious health risk.
Premature aging of your skin results from tanning. The effects are not immediate but they are relentless. You will look older and you will see more wrinkles, sun spots and a loss of skin elasticity. Extensive sun or artificial tanning exposure will make your skin appear leathery and suppresses your skin’s immune defenses. This suppression increases your risk for skin cancer and increases your risk of melanoma which is the deadliest type of skin cancer by 75% when begun prior to age 35 years. It is estimated women who use tanning beds more than 1 time per month are 55% more likely to develop melanoma. Melanoma is the second leading type of invasive cancer diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 19 years. Almost 70,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with melanoma each year and one in eight will die from it.
Although the development of cancer may take many years the damage and risks are cumulative. Even if your skin does not become red and inflamed it has been damaged. Some people believe damage only occurs if there is peeling of the skin and other signs of damage. This is not true. All exposure damages your skin and the more severe the exposure the greater the damage. For children, teens and young adults the risk is greatest.
Other risks include eye damage from UV exposure and allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to UV radiation. If you are on certain medications you are more prone to sunburn and skin damage. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist and be aware of the common medications that sensitize you to sun reactions. You cannot protect your skin by “looking” for a sunburn since a sunburn takes 6 to 48 hours to develop.
If you have a fair skin color and light colored hair you are at an even greater risk for skin damage.