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The Dangers of Indoor Tanning and Why it’s so Addictive

Jun 21, 2021

The Dangers of Indoor Tanning and Why it’s so Addictive


We all would love to come back from a relaxing tropical vacation with a nice healthy glow. Getting a tan can make us feel more vibrant and relaxed at the same time. Everyone looks better with a tan, right? So why don’t we skip the expense of going to a tropical island and get our tan from an indoor tanning machine? Thousands of people do it every year so it must be okay. Please, think again. First though, why are they so addictive to some people? Researchers have found two primary reasons indoor tanning can be addictive:

  1. Studies have shown tanning machines produce a release of dopamine in some people similar to alcohol or drugs. Thus, laying in a tanning bed can be an exhilarating and very enjoyable experience for these particular people. The tanning sessions become very desired and are difficult for these people to do without.
  2. Laying in a tanning machine is sometimes the only quiet time and/or alone time people get in their busy days. This me-time leads to overuse of the tanning devices as the escape becomes a necessary part of being able to relax.

To overcome either of these addictive practices requires finding other stimulation that can be substituted for the use of indoor tanning. As we will see below, the sooner the better. Indoor tanning has been around for a long time and many myths surround the potential dangers of using tanning machines. Some of the myths and the truth regarding these myths are:

  • Tanning beds aren’t as bad as the sun – False - Tanning beds can deliver more ultraviolet rays than the sun, depending on how long and how often they’re used. Tanning beds emit UV rays - the same harmful rays that come from the sun and cause sun damage. Just like the sun, tanning beds cause premature aging, making skin look leathery and unattractive.
  • Getting a base tan from a tanning bed will protect my skin from the sun when I go to the beach – False – A tan is not protection from the sun, it is actually a sign of skin damage. When UV rays hit our skin, they cause the cells to leak their pigment. This is how sunburns form. Whether skin burns or tans, it is a sign of skin damage.
  • Tanning is a good way to get Vitamin D – False – Tanning beds use bulbs that emit UVA light. Our bodies need UVB light to make vitamin D. Eating a healthy diet of foods that contain natural vitamin D is the best way to get sufficient intake of this important vitamin.
  • Tanning beds are regulated and can’t hurt me – False – Science tells us that there is no such thing as a safe tanning bed, tanning booth or tanning lamp. Just one indoor tanning session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer from 20% - 67%. Tanning indoors makes our skin age more quickly and develop wrinkles, age spots and loss of skin firmness sooner.

When it comes to tanning, if we are going to get a tan we should do it the natural way. Go outside and enjoy some exposure to the sun. Please keep in mind, any tan, whether naturally administered by the sun or artificially cooked in a tanning machine, is a sign of skin damage. Wear protective clothing and find a good, natural lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor). Moderation is the key to soaking up the “sunshine vitamin”.

Be Blessed.

Category: Dr. Sterling