Other Skin Risks Associated With Tanning

Carcinoma and melanoma are only some of the potential risks associated with tanning. Other dangers of tanning include damage to the skin and eyes and addiction.

Skin Damage
The UVA and UVB rays from sunlight and commercial tanning beds can cause other types of damage to the skin besides skin cancer. In addition to painful burns, prolonged exposure can cause early aging and wrinkles. It can lead to sun spots, freckling and uneven skin tone resulting from damage to the dermis.

Sunlight or light from tanning beds can stimulate the sebaceous glands, which are the glands responsible for producing the skin’s natural protective oils. If these glands are overstimulated, they can cause acne on the face or other exposed body parts.

Eye Damage
UVA and UVB rays from commercial tanning beds and excessive sun exposure can cause photokeratitis, a condition characterized by the burning of the cornea. This can lead to cataracts and even partial or full blindness. Symptoms of photokeratitis include painful tearing, redness or a burning sensation in the eyes. Temporary blindness can occur in extreme cases.

To prevent this, most doctors recommend wearing eye protection when outdoors, including sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. When tanning indoors, tanners are recommended to wear protective eye goggles that block UV rays. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires salons to provide these glasses to their customers.

Wearing eye protection while exposed to harsh rays can also decrease the instance of crow’s feet, or unattractive wrinkles at the corner of the eyes. Wrap-around sunglasses are recommended by optometrists and dermatologists.

Tanning Addiction
One of the less frequently acknowledged truths about tanning is that it has the potential to be addictive, especially to individuals who are already prone to addiction. Scientists believe there may be a link between tanning addiction and instances of anxiety and depression, but further study is needed to support this coreelation.

Exposure to natural and some artificial light releases pleasure-inducing hormones in the brain called endorphins. These natural chemicals cause you to feel good, similar to the way many addictive drugs operate. Scientists believe that frequent tanners who are prone to addiction are getting hooked on the release of endorphins caused by tanning, resulting in a tanning addiction.

When practiced responsibly and in moderation, tanning can be a pleasurable experience that leaves you looking and feeling great. Practicing proper tanning can even give you small health benefits, like relief from jet lag, PMS and minor stress.