You know the saying, “If I knew then what I know now…”? Well, that saying certainly applies to me. Oddly enough, before working with Dr. Soine at Soine Dermatology & Aesthetics, I was the manager of a tanning salon during my college years. Not only did I manage a tanning salon, but I managed the salon with the pigment comparable to copy paper- not the best advertisement for the products right? Feeling the pressures of pale skin in a tan world, I tried the tanning bed for the first time and burned- really burned. I soon entered the viscous cycle of “Burn, freckle, peel”. No matter how hard I tried, I would never become a bronzed goddess. And of course when you are young, you think you are invincible.
As a child, my parents frequently applied and reapplied sunscreen on my sisters and I. We were raised with safe-sun rituals so it came as a shock to my parents that I was working at a tanning salon. However, a huge wake- up call came with the diagnoses of Malignant Melanoma on my father’s back. A mole the size of the tip of a pen resulted in a six inch scar across his back, but fortunately lived through it. From that moment on, I have never looked back on the tanning beds.
The indoor tanning industry sells tanning beds as “safe” even though there are blatant warnings on the outside of every single tanning bed-I know, I used to clean them. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer, and more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer each year are linked to indoor tanning. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and exposure to tanning beds increase the risk of Melanoma drastically. Melanoma is also the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-35 years old. The good news is that if diagnosed early enough, it is almost 95% curable, but deadly if left untreated. I was surprised to see working for Dr. Soine, the amount of skin cancer cases we see on a daily basis, but the amounts of cases as a result of indoor tanning are appalling. We unfortunately have seen numerous patients in their 30’s having skin cancers, including melanomas, removed due to the frequent use of tanning beds in their 20’s.
Seeing the dangers of tanning beds on a firsthand account, I am ashamed to say that I once was an advocate for indoor tanning. I have since learned to embrace my paste and your own natural skin is beautiful, undamaged, skin. If you read my previous blog on BOTOX in your twenties you will see that I am a firm believer in prevention. These days, I do not leave the house without my daily sunscreen; and wide-brim hats, umbrellas and the shade are my new best friends. I also recommend scheduling an annual visit to your Board Certified Dermatologist for a full body check.