The Dangers of Tanning Beds
- Emma, a social media influencer from Sweden, recently took to Tik Tok to share a series of before and after photographs of her frightening tanning bed experience. She was left with a puffy face, redness, and scars after spending 18 minutes in a face tanning machine.
- Tanning beds are dangerous because they expose you to the same harmful UVA/UVB rays you get from the sun, but in the bed, these rays reach you from only 6-8 inches away. Studies have shown that exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of skin cancer and ocular cancer.
- Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%.
Emma, a social media influencer from Sweden, has since healed from her frightening experience and shared a series of before and after photographs in a TikTok video in June, which amassed more than six million views.Read More
Following the removal of the bandages, Emma is seen with blisters and scabs on her swollen face. “I had too little information on using face tanning machines and wanted to try it out but didn’t realize the bad effects it can have on you,” Emma said in a follow-up TikTok video.
Doctors gave Emma “a lot of painkillers, antibiotics, cold compresses, and creams” to help her heal, the TikToker explained.
And although her father took action and complained to the tanning salon where Emma’s incident took place, they have decided not to sue.
Emma said the most significant issue with the face tanning machine was that it had “no time limits.” She told her TikTok followers, “It felt hot like you were in the sun but I didn’t think anything bad would happen. There was nothing alarming while I was in there.”
Emma said the tanning bed didn’t have a time limit on how much UV light a person could get. She also claims to have not taken any types of medication beforehand that could have led to the reaction.
As the Tik Tok user answered questions from fans in her follow-up video, she noted that she didn’t get skin cancer from the incident, or at least it is unknown as of now. “Hopefully I will not get skin cancer, but I do not know,” she added.
The Dangers of Tanning Beds
If you’re considering visiting a tanning bed, we highly suggest you think again. Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of skin cancer — melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
When you hop into a tanning bed, you are exposing yourself to the very same dangerous rays you expose yourself to outside, but those rays are only 6-8 inches away. And in a study recently published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers suggested that banning tanning beds among minors would prevent thousands of cases of melanoma in adolescents, along with millions of dollars in health care costs.
So, even if the temptation of achieving a nice “glow” seems irresistible, you should note that health experts warn against using tanning beds.
Dr. Anna Pavlick, an oncologist specializing in skin cancer at Weill Cornell, explained to SurvivorNet that tanning beds increase your chances of skin cancer “exponentially.”
“We know there is a direct correlation with (melanoma) patients who go to indoor tanning salons,” Dr. Pavlick said, noting that the exposure “is about 6 inches from your body.”
The sun is millions of miles away when you’re on a beach, “so you have to think of the intensity that you’re exposing your skin to when you go to a tanning salon,” she added.
How to Protect Your Skin From Cancer
The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that more than 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year, making it the most common cancer in the U.S.
As the warmer weather months are still upon us it’s important to remember to protect your skin from skin cancer this summer.
Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon and associate at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, previously told SurvivorNet that protecting your skin is easy with these simple steps:
- Sun avoidance during peak hours: This means from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It doesn’t mean you should never go outside during the middle of the day, but make sure you’re protected when you go outdoors.
- Cover your skin and eyes: Wearing a wide brim hat or sunglasses will protect your face, the top of your head, your ears and the delicate skin around your eyes.
- Wear an SPF of 30 or higher: Plenty of facial moisturizers have SPF built into them. Dr. Engelman recommends reapplying every few hours, or after excessive sweating or swimming.
- Get an annual skin check: If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary in between checks (like the signs outlined in this article), schedule an appointment to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
- No-go to tanning beds: Tanning beds can significantly increase your risk of developing melanoma. If you feel like you’re just too pale, Dr. Engelman recommends a sunless tanner.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff