Straight facts about tanning and teenaged skin

teen tan ssdp easton maDid you know that just one blistering sunburn in childhood is all it takes to double your chances of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer later in life? Despite this sobering statistic, some teenagers continue to believe they look better with “a little color.”

Teen tanning and its lifelong impact on skin health has been the subject of widespread conversation in recent years. Indoor and outdoor tanning remain popular among teens even while the connection between exposure to UV radiation and the development of melanoma has become clearer. A study released in 2012 revealed an alarming rise in melanoma among young people aged 18 to 39 over the past 40 years, possibly due to the rise in indoor tanning. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that the use of tanning beds before the age of 35 increases one’s risk for melanoma by 75%.

Serious skin cancer may be the most serious health threat associated with tanning, but it is far from the only one. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that tanning can also cause premature aging of the skin, suppression of the immune system, and permanent eye damage.

The popularity of indoor tanning among teens and young adults has led some states to ban the use of indoor tanning equipment by minors under the age of 18. In Massachusetts, minors under the age of 14 are prohibited from using a tanning facility, and teenagers aged 14-17 must have a parent or guardian sign a consent form at the tanning facility in the presence of the operator.

To keep your skin looking its best during the teen years and throughout life, the dermatologists at SSDP recommend following these commonsense sun safety guidelines:

  • Avoid exposure to the sun during the peak hours of UV intensity
    (10 am - 4 pm)
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and protective clothing if you must be outside during the mid-day
  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to your entire body if you're going to be outdoors for more than 20 minutes, even on cloudy days
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Make sunscreen use part of your daily routine

If you want to add some color without exposing your skin to the damaging effects of the sun or indoor tanning, consider using one of the many sunless tanning products available today. Avène Moisturizing Self-Tanning Lotion is a light, non-greasy lotion that is perfect for all skin types. Available at SSDP, it is also hypo-allergenic and non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores. Ask your SSDP dermatologist about the product that’s best for your skin.

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