Is It Safe To Tan Indoors?

By: Dr. Jere J. Mammino, D.O.


Years ago a tan was looked at as being desirable and healthy for the skin. Unfortunately some people still enjoy this added color. Modern medicine has shown that the sun's ultraviolet rays cause premature aging and skin cancer. In an attempt to get a tan a safer way, tanning parlors have sprouted up advertising that their ultraviolet rays are safe. While it is true that these rays are safer, they still do damage in a slower way. There is no such thing as a "safe" tan.

A tan is the skin's response to injury. Teenagers, especially females, are the largest consumers per age group of tanning parlor services. Exposing yourself to this ultraviolet radiation still ages the skin, causing wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancers. People with burn scars are at an especially high risk, because they are lacking the normally protective pigment cells (melanocytes) in their burned areas. Therefore damage occurs more quickly.

Many teenagers take medication that may interact with the ultraviolet radiation produced by the tanning parlor light box. Such medications include tetracycline, often prescribed for acne, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, frequently prescribed for sports injuries. If you're taking a medication that interacts with light and you visit a tanning parlor, you're at great risk for injury to your skin and eyes.

By being outdoors in sunlight and going to tanning parlors, you're exposing your skin to two damaging agents. While outdoor recreation has a positive effect on your physical and mental well being, exposure to artificial sources of radiation doesn't provide any benefit. Tanning parlors does your skin no good and may cause a lot of damage. In short, you may be paying money to harm your skin.