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Tanning Safely: Points to Healthier Skin
Kristin Larmore

Summer is here: a time when many of us like to lather up and hit the plastic pool chair.

Some bring out their SPF 6 suntan lotion or super glossy, sun-attracting oil and suck in the deep rays for as long as they can stand the heat.

Or others visit the salon when the sun shortens its visits, getting that dark look without even going outside.

With all the new hype about skin cancers and melanomas, however, everyone needs to be aware of the risks associated with these common activities and how to possibly prevent them.

Dr. Maggie Sparks’ Dermatology office in Boone, N.C., advertises “Back in the 1930s, only one out of every 1,500 people developed malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. That rate has doubled each decade so that currently the attack rate is almost one in every 60 people.apostrophe

White, porcelain skin used to signify beauty, but society’s ideals have gradually transformed. Even though many women said in a recent survey on Appalachian State University’s campus that a tan is not important to beauty, some still visit the tanning bed on a regular basis, and many more sunbathe outside during the spring and summer months.

It’s become almost an expectation that when the sun’s out, you’ve got to get your hours in. This is a real concern in today’s society, and Sparks said a burn is much worse than people thought because it doubles your risk of skin cancer.

Some dermatologists like Sparks and doctors say tanning beds should be banned, and their belief is based on facts.

The Skin Cancer Foundation said UVA rays are a “proven human carcinogen,apostrophe and salons using the new high-pressure bulbs might expose a tanner to 12 times the annual exposure from the sun.

Not to mention, tanning beds can increase risk for squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer marked by hard, bumpy surfaces like warts, by two-and-a-half.

After we realize all these overwhelming facts, however, what can be done?

According to Dr. Sparks’ preventive skin care handout and her general advice, here are the most important tips if you decide to tan:

1. Because research now shows both UVA and UVB can cause serious skin damage and cancer, make sure to purchase a sunscreen protecting from both.

2. Anything under 15 lotion is basically useless because it’s doesn’t protect enough, and those with fair skin should be especially careful to use 15 or above from April through December.

3. Make sure to apply lotion one hour before going out because it doesn’t take effect until an hour afterward and reapply inside when you’re not laying out already. People burn from applying while still baking outside.

4. Tanners shoot for the hours between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., but that is the time to avoid tanning because the rays are so much stronger. Do it earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.

5. Wear a hat to shield your face.

6. Fairer skinned women and those with a risk due to family history should be even more careful, and it is recommended they have a skin examination every six months.

Just because you don’t burn, it doesn’t mean you’re not getting sun damage. What counts is overall sun exposure over a lifetime, not how many times you burn.

Society would have an entirely different ideal about what a 40-year-old woman, for example, is supposed to look like if women would watch their sun exposure, Sparks said. Yes, wrinkles come from aging, too, but a large chunk of those pesky wrinkles appear from sun exposure.

So though looking tan is still something to be admired in society today, it’s never a safe choice. Women are still likely to lay out and use tanning beds, however, they should at least know the safest way to go about it.

“We believe that only through aggressive and careful follow-up can the skin cancer epidemic be stopped. Remember, if you can spot it you can stop it,apostrophe the handout warns.

About the author:

Kristin Larmore is a senior journalism major at Appalachian State University and hopes to write for a food publication, along with becoming a food critic and running her own winery in the future.

ChickSpeak (http://www.chickspeak.com/) is an online womenapostrophes magazine, social networking site and organization that aims to inspire big dreams, strong morals and success in the world through informative and uplifting information. Check out ChickSpeak for articles about every part of your life, from relationships and dieting to entertainment and careers.