Tanning Bed Safety Tips

Health, Home & Family
on June 25, 2012

Many people love the look of tanned skin, but just don’t live in the sort of climate where they can easily get a natural suntan. Tanning beds are becoming an increasingly popular option. You can buy tanning beds to use at home or you can pay to use commercial equipment at your local tanning salon. If you are thinking of getting that golden glow from a tanning bed, remember these facts to help prevent damage to your skin.

How tanning beds work. Tanning beds simulate the sun’s rays by using specially designed bulbs. These bulbs emit a certain level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. There are two types of UV light. Most tanning beds are manufactured to product UVA light, which is safer for your body than the other type, UVB light. UV radiation should normally only penetrate a shallow distance into the skin, tanning the skin in the process. A short, intensive burst of UVA light from a sun bed gives the brown, tanned effect that users love. Prolonged use of tanning beds creates a deeper, more long-lasting tan.

Dangers and risks. According to the Health Physics Society, studies have shown that increased exposure to UV radiation can cause skin cancer. There is also a risk of damage to the eyes, if protective eyewear is not used. The cornea and lens of the eye can absorb the UV rays, which can cause a corneal burn or, over a longer period of time, cataracts.

Regulation. If you do decide to use a tanning bed, then opt for a regulated salon, which conforms to the standards in your state. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, regulations vary from one state to another, but most states ban the admission of minors under the age of 18 from using tanning beds. A reputable salon will use the equipment according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, whether legally obliged to do so or not. Look for information and guidance about how to use the tanning beds, and follow this at all times. If you are purchasing equipment for home use, look for evidence that the equipment complies with FDA regulations.

Frequency and duration of visits. The World Health Organization does not recommend the use of tanning beds for any period of time. If users insist on using such equipment, however, then WHO suggests minimizing exposure. The actual safe duration of a session should depend on an individual’s skin type, but under no circumstances should any user experience skin reddening. WHO recommends that a period of at least 48 hours is left between each tanning session. People with skin that is very susceptible to sunburn should avoid tanning beds completely.

This article was originally published as Tanning Bed Safety Tips on DailyParent.com.