Alright, ladies, we know how hard it is to resist an afternoon by the pool, but that sun-kissed look we all crave may be causing more damage than it's worth! According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who lay out or go to tanning booths are nearly 75% more likely to develop melanoma than those who do not tan. Melanoma is known to kill one person every 50 minutes, so before you slip into that bikini or head to the tanning salon, take a minute to consider some safer options! We've compiled a list of reasons why you should reach for a bottle of self-tanner instead of soaking up the sun!
Tanning can cause sunburn: You may see a sunburn as temporary, but the effects are fairly permanent. The UV exposure actually damages your cells, and your immune system has to rush to the burn in order to fight off potential infection. While the damage is short term, repeated incidents can lead to long term problems. For our favorite sunscreen options, click here!
Tanning can cause premature aging: Also referred to as "photoaging," premature aging is an irreversible condition where the skin becomes leathery, wrinkled, and spotted. It can take years for your skin to show the true extent of sun damage, so make sure you are being proactive now. While there are certain treatments that may help damaged skin, these treatments tend to be expensive and painful.
Tanning can cause actinic or solar keratoses: This is the most common pre-malignant skin condition in the U.S., affecting more than 5 million people each year. It is considered to be the precursor to skin cancer, and without treatment it will eventually turn into full-blown cancer. It is caused by long term exposure to the sun, and must be treated with chemical peels or liquid nitrogen.
Tanning can cause eye damage: Two prominent problems that develop after long-term exposure to the sun are photokeratitis and cataracts. Photokeratitis is caused by the burning of the cornea, and can result in incredibly painful symptoms like tearing, swollen eyelids, and the gritty feeling of sand in the eye. Cataracts form when you have had too much UV exposure, and result in cloudy or spotted vision and soreness around the eyes. They can be surgically removed, but it's much cheaper to invest in a pair of sunglasses!
Tanning can suppress the immune system: When your skin becomes burned, the white blood cells that make up our immune system have to rush to the area to prevent infection, which can inhibit our skin's natural defenses. This can result in an increased sensitivity to sunlight, and can even reduce the effects of your immunizations and certain medications.
Tanning can cause ocular melanoma: More commonly referred to as cancer of the eye, this cancer is fairly rare - about 2,000 adults will contract it every year. Unfortunately, not much is known about this kind of cancer, and it can be very deadly. According to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation, 50% of the people who have ocular melanoma will develop metastases, which is a universally fatal disease.
Tanning can cause squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cells make up the topmost layers of our skin. Squamous cell carcinoma occurs when an uncontrollable abnormal growth appears on the epidermis. These abnormal growths can range from red, scaly patches of skin and warts, to open sores that will crust and bleed. The growths can permanently disfigure you and, in rare cases, even cause death.
Tanning can cause basal cell carcinoma: Like squamous cell carcinoma, BBC's are abnormal, uncontrolled growths that appear in the form of open sores, red patches and shiny bumps or scars. These occur in the outermost layer of skin, and while they rarely spread beyond the original site, they can be badly disfiguring if they continue to grow, and can occasionally be life threatening.
If you are at all concerned that you may be suffering from one of these conditions you should see your doctor immediately. If you're still dying to get that summer glow, we recommend tanning lotions or sprays instead. For more information on the dangers of tanning, check out the links below:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Skin Cancer Foundation, Melanoma Foundation, Ocular Melanoma Foundation