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Published on November 17, 2017

woman getting a spray tan

Is it Possible to Tan Safely?

If you’ve ever wondered if there is a safe option to keep your skin looking glowing and tanned, the answer is in the spray.

“There is no such thing as a safe tanning bed,” said Jenny Nelson, MD, Avera Medical Group dermatologist. “If people need color we urge them to do spray tans.”

That’s good advice, considering skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. A tan is the DNA of your cells responding to radiation by putting pigment in your skin to block it, Nelson explained. That occurs anytime you tan whether it’s from a tanning bed or the sun. This in turn causes damage and mutations, which can lead to cancer.

Tanning beds give out UVA and UVB rays, which both can cause long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer. Use of tanning beds has been linked to increased risk of melanoma, especially if you begin at a younger age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body where it can be hard to treat. About 7 percent of U.S. teens used an indoor tanning bed in 2015, according to the CDC.

Sun exposure can also cause spider veins, sunspots and wrinkles later in life.

Other tips:

  • If you’re outside, use sunscreen and reapply often and generously. Most people don’t use enough sunscreen, Nelson said. Ideally, you should apply 1 ounce (about one full palm) to cover the arms legs, neck and face of the average adult.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Cover your skin during the day with UV protected clothing. Many people balk at the idea of wearing long sleeves and pants during the hot summer months, but Nelson said UV protected clothing is cooler and lighter than expected.
  • If you find something concerning, call a dermatologist to get it checked. They can recommend a prevention plan going forward as well.

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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