Sun Bed Safety

Most of us think that having tanned skin looks great and that it makes you feel great too. Using a sunbed not only gives you a tan but the burst of heat can also be relaxing. But what are the long-term impacts on your health? Sunbeds are very popular with young people but you need to remember that you have to be over sixteen to use one. Around 25% of young people aged 16 have used a sunbed at some time.

So sunbeds, good or bad? Find out the facts and then you can make your own mind up.

Health organisations do not encourage the use of sunbeds as constant use can cause skin damage from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Tans from sun beds are considered more dangerous than tanning naturally from the sun, as the UV radiation penetrates deeper into the skin.

Whether you get your tan naturally from the sun or by using a sunbed, it is not a sign of good health. A tan, even when there has been no burning, always means the skin has been damaged.

It is recommended that the following people avoid sun beds completely:

  • Those under 16
  • Those with very fair skin
  • Those who burn easily or who tan badly
  • Those with lots of freckles and moles
  • Those who have had skin cancer or have a family history of the illness
  • Those using medication that could make their skin oversensitive to UV light

When using a sunbed you run the risk of getting:

  • Certain types of skin cancer
  • Premature aging or wrinkles
  • Eye damage
  • A reduced immune system

So, you’ve got the facts now – just remember that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines state that no one should have more than 20 sunbed sessions a year or they increase the risks they are exposing themselves to.

Another thing to note is that the government do not regulate solariums and there is no requirement for training of staff, so they do not have to adhere to any laws.

The dangers of ‘binge tanning’

A worrying new trend among young people is to ‘binge tan’ by spending more than five hours a day in the sun on holiday and wearing only a low factor sun cream or none at all.

This hugely increases your risk of life-threatening skin cancer, as well as causing premature ageing to the skin.

Fake tans and gradual tanning moisturisers are a safe way to get a healthy glow without risking your life and causing permanent damage to your skin.

Who can help?

The Youth Information site is full of useful information and advice aimed at helping young people with the issues that they face as they grow up. www.youthinformation.com/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=90394

The Site can also give you lots of advice and information on using sunbeds. http://www.thesite.org/healthandwellbeing/appearance/yourbody/sunbeds

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