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Indoor Tanning: Is It Safe?

Table of Contents


Overview

When people use a tanning bed or booth or a sunlamp to get a tan, it's called indoor tanning. Indoor tanning uses artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) light, rather than sunlight, to tan the skin.

People may feel that a tan makes them look good and that a tan looks "healthy." But being exposed to the light from tanning beds isn't safe.

The light from a tanning device can cause skin cancer. Tanning devices are linked to basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer, and the most serious type of cancer, melanoma. Indoor tanning, especially if used before age 35, increases your risk for all these skin cancers.

And indoor tanning harms you in other ways as well. It can:

Do children and teens have a special risk?

Because of the risk for skin cancer, medical experts recommend that children 18 and younger not use indoor tanning at all. Some states have made it illegal for children 18 and younger to use indoor tanning.

Why do people use indoor tanning?

Even though indoor tanning isn't safe, some people still use it. But their reasons may not be valid.

What are some other tanning products?

If you like the way a tan looks, you can buy sunless tanning products. These are usually lotions, gels, and sprays that you put on the skin. These products color the skin to make it look like you have a tan. To keep your tan, reapply the tanning product regularly. If you use these products, cover your eyes, nose, mouth, and ears before you apply them.

These products are generally safe, but they don't protect against sunburn. You will still need to use sunscreen.

There are also tanning pills. These are not safe. They can cause problems such as liver damage and hives.

What are some indoor tanning safety precautions?

Indoor tanning increases the risk of skin cancer. If you choose to use a tanning device, you can take steps to reduce your risk.


Credits for Indoor Tanning: Is It Safe?

Current as of: November 15, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Amy McMichael MD - Dermatology


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