Eskenazi Health pediatrician
Now that winter weather has taken hold in central Indiana with cold temperatures and gray skies, some people turn to tanning beds to maintain their cherished suntans, but this comes with serious potential consequences.
While tanning beds pose the possible danger of skin cancer and premature skin aging to all who subject themselves to man-made ultraviolet rays, it’s teenagers who face an even greater risk, and it’s up to parents to help their children take necessary precautions.
Precocious young teenagers feel invincible, which is a part of their psychological development. As the influence of their parents gradually declines, teens become rebellious and are prone to ignore a variety of risks, which includes the use of tanning beds.
Individuals who sunbathe or use tanning beds consistently before age 35 increase their risk of contracting melanoma – a cancer associated with skin cancer – by 75 percent.
Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for people 15-29. Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25-30 years old and the second-leading cause of cancer death in women 30-35.
There is no such thing as a safe tan via the sun or UV rays, and it’s important for parents to repeat these warning messages to their youngsters and encourage sunscreen whenever appropriate.
You’ll want to have a give-and-take with your teenagers about this potentially dangerous issue, but the key is to be consistent and firm in convincing them to avoid tanning beds.
Sharing with your children personal stories of individuals who have been damaged by tanning bed use are especially powerful, memorable and effective.
However, if your teenager is adamant about having a consistent tan, try to talk them into trying over-the-counter sunless tanning creams and lotions that provide tanned skin while avoiding the health risks of UV exposure.
If you need a pediatrician for your child or a primary care physician for yourself, call 317-880-8687 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors.