Everyone has words or a phrase that they hate to hear but know is true. Eating that is bad for you. You drive too fast. If you only applied yourself. There is no such thing as a safe tan…
That last one makes me cringe. How true. How sadly true. I love the glow of UV (ultraviolet) rays from both the natural sun and the humming gods we call tanning beds. I first met a tanning booth when I was 14 and it was love at first bake. And just like nearly half of all teenagers, I never used sunscreen.
For me, nothing cleared and masked my acne prone skin as easily as regular UV exposure. Although, there is now research that says tanning salons can be breeding grounds for acne and infection causing bacteria. Unfortunately, that healthy glow so many love is a very unhealthy one. As skincancer.org states, “The skin of teens is thought to be more vulnerable than adults. Teens may be especially susceptible to skin cancer because their cells are dividing and changing more rapidly than those of adults.”
A few months ago I noticed that overnight a big brown spot had appeared on my lower lip. After visiting a dermatologist I was told it was caused by excessive UV exposure and I need monitor its growth and have multiple precancerous moles removed from my shoulders and back. Since I used a tanning booth regularly as a teen I am 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to develop skin cancer in my lifetime than people who never artificially tan.
Since tanning is so common and the negative effects are felt later in life, it is easy to ignore the damage you are causing. Since you skin is so important to your overall mental and physical health it is important to learn about good care and hygiene. There are numerous reputable online resources where you can learn about skin health like WebMD, Medicine Plus, and Discovery Health. One great article on WebMD called Top Teen Skin Problems – and How To Solve Them is worthy of a look too! Click on the book below to order For All to See: A Teen’s Guide to Healthy Skin from the library.
-Michael B. – CLP Hazelwood