The Dangers of Sun Tanning

As amazing as a suntan can make you feel, we live in a country where the weather is somewhat questionable, and we don’t see a lot of the sun. With lack of vitamin D, a lot of people take tanning into their own hands and use sun beds. Yes sun beds are quick, cheap and very easily accessible, but the dangers of sun beds often goes unnoticed in a bid for bronzed skin.

Sunbeds emit bigger doses of ultraviolet rays (UV) rays than the sun does during its peak hours. These harmful rays can age your skin prematurely, making it look uneven, wrinkled and leathery. Tanning for long stretches, and particularly on sunbeds, can damage the DNA in your skin cells. This destruction may build up to cause skin cancer. UV rays harm your skin in many ways and people who are exposed to UV rays before the age of 25 have a higher risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

A spokesperson for Pall Mall Medical, said: “Sunbeds deliver more harmful radiation than sunlight itself and can have many health implications.

“On an aesthetic level, they can cause skin to prematurely age and appear coarse, leathery and wrinkled. Far more seriously, prolonged exposure to the UV rays generated by sunbeds increases the risk of tanners developing malignant melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer.”

Early signs of melanoma include:

  • Asymmetry: The mole has an irregular shape.
  • Border: The edge is not smooth, but irregular or notched.
  • Color: The mole has uneven shading or dark spots.
  • Diameter: The spot is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving or Elevation: The spot is changing in size, shape or texture.

The only way to be sure if a mole is melanoma is to have it examined by a doctor.

Pall Mall’s spokesperson also adds; “the damage these UV rays cause can take up to 20 years to appear, so even if all seems well now, below the surface problems could already be developing.

“Other problems include potential damage to the eyes, including irritation, conjunctivitis and cataracts, particularly if tanners are exposing their eyes to UV rays without wearing goggles.

“In an ideal world, the best medical practice is to avoid sunbeds altogether, particularly if, but not limited to, those who burn easily, have fair hair, freckles, moles, a family history of skin cancer or skin that has previously been badly burnt in the sun.

“UV treatments that appear similar to sunbeds are often used by doctors to treat certain skin conditions, for example the use of phototherapy for psoriasis, and we believe this leads to a common misconception that the occasional sunbed can be good for health.

“This is a definite falsehood as the UV used in treatments such as phototherapy is carefully monitored and controlled by medical professionals and in no way mirrors the high levels that the skin is typically exposed to during a tanning session.”

If you have noticed unusual changes in your skin you can book an appointment with one of our GPs. At Pall Mall Medical, we offer private appointments with GPs and Consultants via telephone and video call.

You can book an appointment by calling 03300 58 44 55.