Teens and tanning: Experts say tanning beds could be more dangerous than the sun

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It’s prom season and many teens want a dark, sun kissed glow to go along with their new prom dress or tux, but experts say a tan from an artificial light source is just as damaging as a tan from the sun, sometimes even more so.

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Oncology Nurse Allison Grubb says it’s important to talk with teens about tanning. She says tanning prematurely ages your skin, causes wrinkles, and may even lead to skin cancer. If you have tanned in the past, you already have skin damage, even if you can’t see it yet.

Grubb says tanning from both the sun and a tanning bed are damaging. The sun’s rays contain UVA and UVB rays. Tanning beds use UVA light, which penetrates the skin more deeply. Therefore, tanning beds can cause just as much damage, if not more. The concentration of UVA rays from a tanning bed is also greater than the amount of UVA a person gets from the sun.

She says spray tans or self-tanners are much safer than a tanning bed.

Grubb also suggests to always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. Avoid tanning beds, and seen shade during hours of the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest, generally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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