Does tanning indoors have the same effect as tanning outdoors?
Yes. You might ask what the advantage is of tanning indoors and the answer is control. You always know what you’re getting from an individual tanning session. It is a very precise, calculated, controlled exposure designed to give you a cosmetically pleasing tan without burning your skin. When you go outdoors, you place yourself in an uncontrolled environment. You don’t know how much you are getting and frequently tanning outdoors results in developing erythema (sunburn).

An indoor tanning session is equivalent to how many hours in the sun?
One study seemed to indicate that based on very specific controlled factors, a single tanning session is approximately equal to two hours of outdoor sun. However, this is a very controlled study. The fact is that a tanning bed is a relatively stable source in terms of energy output. The sun is a highly unstable source in terms of ultraviolet energy output. Factors that influence the sun’s UV exposure are: clouds, pollution, dust in the air, ozone levels, elevation from sea level, geography, the season of the year, and especially the time of day.

Should people tan who have had skin cancer in the past?
NO! They shouldn’t tan indoors or outdoors even though a doctor may have removed all of the skin cancer. You don’t know whether or not another one may be forming in its place. Although not every skin cancer is caused by overexposure to ultraviolet rays, most are. You don’t want to contribute to pre-existing damage that has not yet surfaced. However, the skin cancer that these people are seeing today is due to overexposure(s) they suffered 20-30 years ago.

Why can’t salon owners make any claims regarding established medical benefits of indoor tanning?
Tanning beds are considered medical devices by the FDA. Only physicians are allowed to make medical claims. Tanning equipment operators may only make statements regarding the cosmetic benefits of tanning equipment.

How does the tanning process work?
There are three components that make the tanning process work.
1. UVB stimulates the tanning cells (melanocytes) to produce melanosomes, which contain the tanning pigment melanin.
2. UVA darkens the melanin that has been produced by using oxygen.
3. Oxygen comes from blood vessels beneath the skin and outside the skin.]
Of course, the tanning process can be optimized through the use of professional tanning lotions which contain nutrients for your tanning cells. If you seem to develop a tan rather slowly and become impatient, remember that a single tanning session can potentially take anywhere from three to ten days to fully mature. This is called DPD or Delayed Pigment Darkening.

What’s causing the scent that I smell after tanning?
In a word, melanin. Ultraviolet light in the UVA range causes melanin to enlarge and turn brown. During the process, dermatologists say a chemical reaction takes place. A natural side effect of the reaction is the aroma. This occurrence is normal whether you’ve been tanning inside or outside. Some tanning lotions have been designed to minimize or prevent the odor from occurring, but ultimately a shower will remove the odor.

What causes white spots?
There are several reasons that a person will begin to develop white spots. One common reason is vitiligo, which is characterized by irregularly shaped white patches of skin, surrounded by dark borders. The white patches are sensitive to UV exposure. Doctors will often use a lotion based form of psoralen (an extremely photosensitizing agent) and induce up to second degree burns on the specific areas. This in effect, reactivates dormant melanocyte cells into producing melanin again. In time, the white areas will gradually begin-to match the surrounding areas.

Another cause for white spots is a fungus known as tinea versicolor. This fungus actually begins in the hair and falls down primarily onto the upper body like dandruff (however, this is not dandruff). The affected areas prevent the skin from tanning and as a result, create white spots. Sometimes, the spots can be a little scaly. The fungus in tinea versicolor produces an acid that inhibits the production of tyrosinase in your skin;s malanocytes, which  in turn prevents the production of melanin in the affected areas. Treating tinea versicolor is fairly easy, but recovery may take up to several months. Shampoos like extra strength Selsun Blue are very effective at killing fungus. Properly cleaned tanning equipment will not spread tinea versicolor. If you think you contracted this condition in a tanning facility, you most likely had the fungus all along, but only noticed white spots after you started tanning.

The third case for white spots is caused by how a person lays in a tanning bed. Three area of the body are affected: shoulder blades, tail bone area, and the backs of calves. What happens is that pressure is created on those areas of the body which restricts blood flow. A person needs UVA and UVB to tan, however they also need oxygen. Those who sleep in the tanning beds often get these spots. There is a simple way to minimize and even eliminate this condition. Take your right forearm (not your elbow or the heel of your hand) and the bottom of your right foot and push up gently for a few seconds. This will relieve pressure on the right hand side of your body, allowing your skin to breathe for a few moments. After you have done this, you should lower your right side and raise the left side up the same way.

Can I wear my contact lenses while tanning?
Problems have developed in the past with contact lenses sticking to the eyes while tanning. The primary reason for this is demoisturization. Your whole body naturally loses moisture during the tanning process, including your eyes. If you are going to tan with your contacts in, it is recommended that you not only wear protective eye wear, but use moisturizing drops prior to or just after the tanning session to prevent any discomfort.

Why isn’t closing my eyes good enough?
Eyelids are not made of UV blocking material and are too thin to block out rays. The result is that UV passes through, damaging the cornea, retina and lens. Cumulative long term effects include cataracts and eyelid cancers. Always wear eye protection.

How do I prevent “raccoon eyes”?
Raccoon eyes occur for the same reason that some people don’t adjust the watch on their arm get raccoon wrist. Adjusting the protective eye wear occasionally during a tanning session will help to minimize this condition. The adjustment can be performed by gently sliding the eye wear to a new position. You should never lift the eye wear off of your eyes to adjust their position.

Why does a tan disappear?
The tanning process takes place in the epidermis (top layer of the skin). The epidermis replaces itself approximately once a month. As the skin sheds, tans gradually begin to fade. In order for you to maintain that cosmetically pleasing tan, you need to return to rebuild and maintain what you have.

Why is my tan washing away?
The top layer of skin is continuously renewing itself. The renewal cycle takes about a month to complete and the skin cells that have finished their cycle lay on the skins surface until exfoliated off. Since these skins cells also tan, the skin sheds or loses some of its tan when it is cleansed.

I’m over 40 and I don’t seen to tan as well as I used to. Why is that?
The reason is that after 40, your body begins to lose melanocytes. Not to worry though. Through controlled, systematic exposures, you can slowly replenish what your body began to lose.

Is it okay for pregnant women to tan indoors?
Many people are concerned with pregnant women tanning indoors because they still think that tanning rays can cook your internal organs. This, in fact, is not the case. UVA with your average tanning bed penetrates about 2mm deep (about the thickness of cardboard) into the body. UVA penetrates deeper than UVB, but neither UVA or UVB cook internal organs. One concern about pregnant women tanning is the heat. Remember that the temperature around the baby remains relatively constant at 98.6 degrees, so the baby can take a little heat, but the same amounts of heat that would cause anyone to be uncomfortable will also make the baby uncomfortable. The tanning bed during the busy season can certainly produce enough heat to make people a little uncomfortable. It is suggested that if a pregnant mother tans, she should come in during the morning hours and with a doctor’s permission.

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