Beware tanning danger

Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Radiation is serious because it can damage delicate tissues and those areas that are not touched by the sun often such as the buttocks, lower pubic areas, breasts and the underarm/side arm areas. Which is why many people try the tanning bed to get a jump on tanning before it is bikini-time.

“Be wary of tanning salons,” says Carol Mitchell, RN, and a former tanning salon worker. “Just because a tanning salon is open for business and approved by the Public Health Dept., doesn’t mean they are good educators of the public on how to use tanning beds properly.”

She urges, “Read everything provided for safe use before signing and tanning. The radiation given off by the bulbs in these beds shines through the skin easily, especially around the eyes and can cause damage to retinas and the cornea. Use those goggles.”

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Other tips on tanning include,

-Beds should be disinfected between uses, especially if you tan nude.

-Damage to the skin is not noticable until the damage is already done. Closing your eyes is never enough. The Health Dept. states that the law is, goggles must be provided before a person enters the tanning bed.

-Even though the salon worker will tell you not to exceed the maximum number of minutes for you skin type, the average person doesn’t know what is a safe number of minutes.

-Use sun screen on your face and neck because this is the delicate skin that shows premature aging, or cover these areas part of the time under the bulbs.

-Moist skin tans more evenly. The tanning bed is stronger than natural sunlight and will dry out the skin quicker. Using the lotions offered for sale at a tanning salon is recommended due to the formulations are specifically for skin exposed to the tanning bulbs.

-The Board of Dermatology does not support the use of the sun or tanning salons.

-Cellulitis, a generalized infection of the skin that starts from a localized, smaller skin infection or inflamation, can result from the radiation burns.

What heightened Mitchell’s concern was what happened to her daughter who was allowed to stay in the tanning bed for 15 minutes. As a result, she was badly burned requiring medical treatment. She thought the professional tanning salon would take good care of her, and because of her assumptions, she is suffering from severe inflamation of the skin.

“This is a thing that should be considered very dangerous if misused or mishandled,” says Mitchell. “It is my professional and personal desire to see all owners / managers of tanning beds to read this and re-evaluate the way they educate the public and to never assume the customer understands. Close supervision is a must so that what happened to my daughter won’t happen to another person.”