Sun Exposure and Sunscreen
When outside in the sunlight, always use a sunscreen to protect your skin. For more information on sunscreens and the associated risks of exposure to sunlight:
Tanning occurs when the skin produces additional pigment (coloring) to protect itself from the burning effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two types of UV rays emitted from both the sun and from indoor tanning equipment. They are called UVA and UVB. Both types penetrate the skin, causing damage. Overexposure to these rays can cause eye injury, premature wrinkling of the skin, light-induced skin rashes, weaken your immune system, and can increase your chances of developing skin cancer. The World Health Organization and other U.S. and international agencies have declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and from artificial sources such as tanning beds and sun lamps to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
Indoor tanning equipment, which includes all artificial light sources including beds, lamps, bulbs, booths, etc., emits UVA and UVB radiation. This equipment may expose the client to a higher dose of harmful UV rays in a shorter time period than natural exposure to the sun. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, studies have found that the risk of melanoma increases by 59% in people exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning, and the risk increases with each use. Even people who do not burn after indoor tanning or sun exposure are at an increased risk of melanoma if they tan indoors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states, “the risk of melanoma of the skin increases by 75 percent when tanning bed use started before age 35.”
Exposure to UV rays puts everyone at risk. It is especially important for adolescents to be aware of these risks, since they may be at greater risk for damage and disease associated with overexposure to UV radiation. Connecticut law prohibits the use of an indoor tanning device by anyone under seventeen years of age. Operators who do not comply with the law (Connecticut state statute sect. 19a- 232) may be fined $100 per incident.
Indoor tanning increases your risk of developing skin cancer. If you decide to use indoor tanning equipment, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk.
- Always use fitted goggles to protect your eyes.
- Use short exposure times when you start.
- Do not use the highest (most intense) settings when you start.
- If you already have a tan, do not use indoor tanning equipment more than once per week
- Consider your medical history – check with your healthcare provider before using indoor tanning equipment.
- Risks of indoor tanning (American Academy of Dermatology)
- The Ugly Truth About Indoor Tanning (American Cancer Society)
- Teens, Tanning & Melanoma Risk (Minnesota Department of Health)
- Tanning Beds Triple Indoor Melanoma Risk (WebMD)
- Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet Rays (US Food and Drug Administration (FDA))