For many people a deep bronze tone is considered attractive. Unfortunately, a tan, whether you get it from tanning on the beach, in a tanning bed or just by accident, is bad news any way you get it. A tan is caused by harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning lamps. If you have a tan, your skin cells have been damaged.
The damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging like wrinkles, brown spots, lax skin and more. Most importantly UV radiation can cause skin cancer. Studies have found that people who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk for melanoma (skin cancer) by 75 percent. More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning.
Research has also found that women and teens who have tanned indoors are six times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in their 20s than those who have never done so. It’s hard to believe skin cancer can happen at such a young age. Unfortunately, most young tanners don’t believe skin cancer can happen to them.
One study found that, in the particular regions of the world that were studied, more people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking. Sometimes skin cancer can develop at shockingly young ages. Researchers have proven that tanning beds expose the skin to unnaturally intense UV rays that are very harmful.
Parents have a role to play in stopping or preventing childhood and teen tanning. Talk to your teens about the dangers of indoor tanning. If your teen can’t resist that bronzed look, consider sunless tanning lotions that are much safer than UV tanning.
Every child needs sun protection, no matter his or her skin color. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Whatever sunscreen you choose, make sure it's broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays). Apply a generous amount and re-apply often.
Try to stay in the shade when the sun is at its strongest, usually from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection.
Babies under 6-months-old should be kept away from direct sunlight.