Tanning bed burns

Tanning bed burns are actually very avoidable, as are sunburns when outdoors. It's all a matter of control and taking time to care for your skin. Getting sunburned whilst outdoors having a good time in the glorious sunshine is actually far from fun and can be excruciatingly painful. Getting burnt after a session in a tanning bed is no different but can actually be a far worse experience. Attending to these burns depends on their severity but in all cases it is extremely important to attend to it properly.

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Avoiding a tanning bed burn

So actually the best way to avoid getting a tanning bed burn is to not tan at all - even more so if you have a skin with a tendency to burn easily! However, the desire to have a beautifully bronzed body that makes one feel sexy as well as healthy seems to be too great for many people to resist.

There are many factors to take into consideration if you want to use a tanning bed to the best effect:

  • Follow all the guidelines and instructions provided in the tanning salon. First timers should receive assistance from the tanning salon staff to make sure you thoroughly understand the tanning process beforehand
  • Don't step into the tanning bed without wearing eye protection, since the intensity of the UV rays can cause damage to your eyes
  • Be sure to wear a good quality indoor tanning lotion that will help keep your skin hydrated during the process. However, it is important to remember that indoor tanning lotions are not designed to protect your skin from burning. The purpose of this product is to help speed up the tanning process
  • Manage the time exposed effectively. Know your ability to tan without getting burnt and make sure not to overdo this. Sometimes 10 minutes is all it takes to get a bad bed burn. Perhaps choose a half session instead of a full one and only tan for a few minutes each time. Ultimately, never be in a hurry to tan all at once
  • Take special note of the fact your face is much more sensitive to the effect of the UV rays, which means that it may burn more readily than other more 'hardened' areas of your body. This will apply to other areas of your body that typically are not exposed to UV rays. eg. Soles of your feet or bikini / swimming costume protected areas. In these cases, wear a UVA and UVB protective sunscreen or manage the time they are exposed more effectively

Dangers of tanning bed burns

Statistics gathered about the tanning bad industry tell us that nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the U.S. every year and of these, 2.3 million of them are teenagers. Another interesting statistic reported is that there is a daily average of one million Americans using tanning salons. ie. They go to these salons regularly, making up quite a remarkable business!

There are a few facts about indoor tanning that are worth noting when choosing to tan indoors:

  • Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74% more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in their list of the most dangerous cancer-causing substances
  • Frequent tanners using the new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from natural sun exposure
  • People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than those who don't

Treatment of a tanning bed burn

A sunburn is a sunburn is a sunburn, BUT a tanning bed burn can be far worse because most tanning beds emit concentrated UV light. This means that the strength, intensity and time exposed to the UV rays needs to be managed carefully.

A tanning bed burn will present any of the following symptoms:

  • redness
  • tenderness and pain
  • sensitivity to temperature
  • blistering
  • peeling

There are many recommendations for relief from or treatment of avoiding tanning bed burns and many are remedies passed down through the generations. The following is a summary:

  • Mustard; tomatoes; cucumbers; lime; a lot of milk. These are recommended as topical treatments
  • Taking a cool shower. When your skin is flaming red from the burn you can take a cool shower or bath and then make it as cold and as long as possible to sooth the redness. If you make it cold too quickly you could go into shock though, so make sure to be gentle on the body. Alternatively, if it is just your face, or a small part of your body, then try a face cloth wrapped in ice cubes
  • Aloe vera or Aloe ferox gel (straight from the plant or a manufactured lotion) or a good aftersun cream. Apply several times a day to help the skin moisturize, heal and alleviate some of the pain or itching
  • Drink plenty water to rehydrate your body and help speed the healing
  • Do not be tempted to pick, scratch or remove any peeling skin. Peeling skin and the new skin forming in its place are delicate and susceptible to infection. Removing this skin can also cause scarring and additional pain and itching
  • Do not burst or disturb any blisters, which could cause infection and scarring. If blisters rub against shoes or clothing, or split and begin to ooze fluid, gently cover them with soft gauze bandages

Important note: Seek medical treatment if the burns cover large portions of the body, are accompanied by multiple or large blisters, cause fever, or do not begin to improve in three to four days.

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