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What Are the Common Tanning Bed Risks?

Lainie Petersen
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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Tanning bed risks are numerous and include making users more susceptible to skin cancer, causing sunburn, and triggering sun poisoning. Other risks include the aggravation of cold sores, UV damage to the user's eyes, and the premature aging of his or her skin. Of particular concern is the risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, with some studies showing that tanning beds can triple the risk of a user contracting this disease. Many medical experts advise people to become aware of tanning bed risks before using these devices.

When a person uses tanning beds, his or her skin is exposed to high concentrations of UVA radiation, triggering melanin production and darkening his or her skin. This may seem to be an efficient way to gain the appearance of having been out in the sun, but the amount of UVA radiation delivered by tanning booths is significantly higher than what a person may experience while outdoors for the same amount of time. This exposure to intense UVA radiation triggers many tanning bed risks, the most significant of which is damage to the skin. Although a person's skin may indeed become darker, it is also being damaged in the process.

Some people have severely burned their eyes while using a tanning bed without eye protection. Similarly, other burns and rashes may develop in response to the high level of UVA radiation exposure. If an individual has a susceptibility to cold sores, the tanning bed may also trigger an outbreak. Photosensitivity is also a concern, and some individuals will develop so-called sun poisoning or sun sickness after spending time in a tanning bed. This condition, which results in flu-like symptoms, can be very unpleasant.

While the most significant of the various tanning bed risks is the heightened chances of developing skin cancer, other risks can present serious health problems and can negatively affect a person's appearance. Many people believe that they look healthier or younger when tan. Over time, however, the damage done by UVA radiation damages the skin. This can cause skin to develop an even tone, dry out, and eventually develop wrinkles. Individuals who tan for aesthetic purposes may wish to consider alternatives to tanning beds, which include spray-on tans that do not expose the skin to UVA radiation, bronzing makeup on the face, or lotions that can encourage a tan to develop without causing damage.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.
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Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
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