Why Are We Hooked on Indoor Tanning?

Why Are We Hooked on Indoor Tanning?

You’ve heard us dermatologists say it time and time again in Nashville: indoor tanning puts you at greater risk of developing skin cancers, including melanoma. But did you ever wonder how people start becoming hooked on the habit?

According to new research in JAMA Dermatology, most tanners began before the age of 21, and 1 in 3 started before the age of 18. And here’s the shocker: nearly half of the participants who started tanning before the age of 16 were accompanied by a family member, most often their mothers.

This comes as no surprise to me.  As a Nashville dermatologist, it was a communication obstacle I tried hard to overcome with parents who encouraged their children to continue indoor tanning. Over time, we are pleased to see that there has been a significant decline in teens tanning - in fact, it is rare for us dermatologists to see now. Over the last 10 years, we would tend to see teens tanning before spring break and prom. Now, they don’t feel the need to darken their skin, and if they do, it is more often a spray tan.

Even better, the US Food and Drug Administration has now proposed a regulation that would prohibit minors (<18 years) from tanning. Should this go into effect, I truly believe it will help provide a barrier to engaging with this kind of activity that can become addictive. For now, we dermatologists are so proud to watch our Nashville moms help their children make the right decisions.

While indoor tanning poses real risks for your skin, it doesn’t mean that safer alternative options aren’t available. If you would like to have a tanned look and are trying to give up indoor tanning, try spray tans or DIY self-tanners are much better options. In the past, self-tanners were often streaky and had strong smells, but now, they are lots of great ones that are able to smoothly roll onto the skin and provide even tone. It may take a few products to find the right one, but it’s the safest option out there for tanning - trust us, the risk that comes with indoor tanning is truly not worth it, but lucky for you, there are safer options available now!

Source: JAMA Dermatology

Related Buzz: Tanning Could Be Addictive, Study Shows, Indoor Tanning Strongly Linked to Skin Cancer

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Dr Pena

About The Author

Dr. Pena is a Board-Certified Medical Dermatologist, Mohs skin cancer surgeon, and cosmetic dermatologist. Her mission is to educate the diverse patient populations she serves, and their communities, on the importance of skin care in decreasing the risk of skin cancer and minimizing the early signs of aging. She founded Skin Solutions Dermatology with numerous clinics in Nashville, Tennessee and surrounding Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Julia Pena, MD