FCH – Ask An Expert: Tanning

  • Wed Jul 1st, 2020 11:00am
  • Life

Will a base tan help me avoid sun damage? Is a tanning bed safer than a natural tan? Is there a safer way to achieve the summer skin I want?

The American Cancer Society and The Skin Cancer Foundation are extremely clear, there is no such thing as safe UV Rays. They label the term “base tan” as a myth. Each time your skin is brown or red it is a sign of damage and does nothing to prevent future UV damage to your skin. 100 percent of the time, UV exposure increases your risk of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer).

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and is steadily climbing in the United States. Tanning beds expose you to UV rays and increase your risk of melanoma. Dr. Kauver, from her position within The Skin Cancer Foundation, stated, “more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning, and those who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.”

If you are set on having a darker skin tone this summer, sprays and creams that use DHA as the active ingredient are approved by the FDA for external use only. The American Cancer Society stated in regards to DHA, “It should not be inhaled or used in or on the mouth, eyes, or nose. People who choose to get a DHA spray tan should make sure to protect these areas.” The DHA combines with the amino acids in skin and this causes the browning effect. Unlike UV rays that are thought to change the healthy skin layers DNA, the spray and lotion tanners only interact with the dead cell layer of the skin.

When you are going to be in the sunshine cover-up, wear a hat, wear sunglasses with UV protection and lather on broad-spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreens lower than SPF 15 cannot claim to help protect against skin cancer or the early aging of skin. When you are going to be sweating or playing in the water read labels to find out how long the sunscreen claims to be water-resistant.

Reminder, babies under 6 months should be kept out of the sun when possible and covered with light clothing and a hat when there is no shade available.

We recommend you use the American Cancer Society to keep track of your skin health through regular self-examination. “Some of the more common ways in which skin cancers can appear include:

• A new, expanding, or changing growth, spot, or bump on the skin

• A sore that bleeds and/or doesn’t heal after several weeks

• A rough or scaly red patch, which might crust or bleed

• A wart-like growth

• A mole (or other spot on the skin) that’s new or changing in size, shape, or color

• A mole with an odd shape, irregular borders, or areas of different colors

The providers of Forks Community Hospital, Bogachiel Medical Clinic, Clallam Bay Medical Clinic, and Forks Family Medical Clinic remind you that if you see something on your skin that has only recently appeared or has changed to make an appointment to have it looked at immediately.

Forks Hospital Providers





Disclaimer: This column is not intended as a diagnosis or recommended treatment of a specific condition. Answers are not a replacement for an individual medical evaluation. Individual health concerns should be evaluated by a licensed clinician.