The summer of 2020 has been more than a little different from previous years. As we’ve closed down and opened up again, our desire for outdoor time has grown. Many people have headed to their nearest beach or park to soak up some of that beautiful sunshine while they can. A little sunshine can be good for the body, not to mention the soul. But too much sunshine, too much tanning, comes at a cost. One such cost is the risk of skin cancer. This isn’t a small risk; it is a 55% increased risk than if tanning were not done.
The risk of skin cancer alone would seem like enough to curb anyone’s desire for a golden tan. Alas, it is not. So, we’ve put together some of the more common ways that people explain tanning away as an innocent beauty practice and point out the ugly truth behind them.
Belief: Tanned skin is more attractive.
Truth: Because this is a subjective belief, we cannot say that tanned skin is not more attractive than pale skin. What we can say, however, is that tanned skin will not stay attractive. Because exposure to UV light breaks down collagen and causes photodamage in the dermis, where collagen, melanin, and other chemicals are made, the future appearance of the skin is greatly impacted by tanning. Long before it should, the skin will become dry, rough, spotted, and wrinkled as a result of photo-aging.
Belief: I won’t get skin cancer because I’m young.
Truth: One of the largest age groups affected by skin cancer right now is the 15 to 39 age group. Here, skin cancer is the third most common cancer to be diagnosed.
Belief: All I need is a good base tan and I’ll be more protected from the risks of tanning.
Truth: It sounds logical that a base tan is protective. After all, the body produces more melanin after being damaged by the sun to reduce future damage by the sun. Still, a base tan indicates that the skin has sustained damage, so it is in no way healthy. There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan.
Belief: A tanning bed is better than actual tanning because the lights are controlled.
Truth: Tanning lamps emit UV light no differently than the sun does. In fact, most people don’t get a sunburn from their average tanning session but get a golden tan. This comes down to the type of UV rays that are used. Because it’s pretty difficult to get a sunburn using a tanning bed, this can lead to excessive use that leads to unseen damage and a significantly higher risk of serious skin cancer.
Both skin cancer and premature aging are prevalent, preventable problems. Practice smart sun care and schedule a consultation with general and cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Shondra Smith at (337) 477-0011.