Tag Archives: skin damage

Indoor Tanning (Article)

One of the most popular trends among teens and young adults at the moment is indoor tanning, which unfortunately poses many hidden risks. Many teens, especially girls under the age of 18, feel that the golden glow of tanned skin enhances their appearance. As teenagers are particularly inclined to put great importance on their own body image, tanning has become increasingly targeted towards this age group. Now, up to 40% of adolescent girls use indoor tanning salons, especially as they have become increasingly accessible and affordable. The popularity is in part also because indoor tanning is much faster than sunning outside, due to UV exposure 10 to 15 times higher than normal, and the results are longer lasting. Unfortunately, few teens are aware of the damaging and permanent side effects of tanning.

A recent study published in a journal sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics points out the correlation between indoor tanning and the development of skin cancer in young people. Melanoma, a highly deadly form of skin cancer, has increased dramatically in the last twenty years, and non-melanoma forms of skin cancers are also increasing significantly, in part due to the growing prevalence of indoor tanning and intense outdoor tanning. Tanning leads to skin cancer through the damaging permanent effects of highly concentrated UV rays on the DNA of skin cells. While skin cancer is the most life-threatening side effect of tanning beds, extensive sunburn, skin aging, and eye damage can also be caused by indoor tanning…and those are just the negative effects we know about.

Finally, new research indicates that tanning addictions are becoming more widespread and are legitimate mental health issues.  Yet, in spite of all of these risks, teens continue to tan. So, as parents, how are we to curb indoor tanning usage? The government has begun to look at instituting laws to ban underage tanning, but ultimately, parents are responsible for their teens.  Before your teen tans, make sure they fully understand all the risks associated with tanning, and encourage them to “be comfortable in the skin they’re in.” No sun-kissed golden glow is worth the risk of developing a life threatening skin cancer. Parents have enormous influence over their children’s choices, and talking through the health risks with your children early on and frequently can have a great effect on their decision to tan. Parents have powers that they often don’t realize that they have…Use them!  Also, studies show that young girls who tan often have mothers or caregivers who also tan. Setting a positive example by limiting your own tanning will perhaps lessen the pressure on your teens to follow this unhealthy trend. Ultimately, simply engaging in a family conversation about tanning will spread awareness about the risks and help teens understand the consequences of their decision. More often than not, when you treat a teen like an adult, they will act like an adult.  Try it and see.

I would encourage all interested readers to take a look at this article. :  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/12/peds.2012-2404.full.pdf+html. Click and read.

Comments are welcome at www.docsmo.com. Maybe even share this article with some teens you know.  Until next time.

Smo Notes: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/12/peds.2012-2404.abstract

Article written by Keri Register and Dr. Paul Smolen

From the desk of Doc Smo: Sunscreen Essentials (Article)

As you send your children off to the wilds of summer camp, the pool, the lake, and other very sun-intense places, you should know some basic facts about young people and exposure to intense sunlight that includes ultraviolet rays. Young people are very susceptible to photo damage of their skin for number of reasons:
*Their skin is thinner than adults, and radiation presumably penetrates that much deeper

*They haven’t been out in the sun as much, and they therefore have less pigmentation to act as a natural sunscreen and to limit photo damage

*They are less aware of their surroundings and the danger intense sun exposure poses for them.

*They are therefore much less likely to protect themselves by getting out of the sunlight.

*Since sun damage may take more than 25 years to show itself, very young children are much more likely to live long enough for light-induced tumors actually to form.

*Finally, young children are more likely to expose more skin to the sun because they often lack inhibition to being naked or semi-naked.
If all that isn’t enough, consider the following data collected a number of years ago. People who had a severe BLISTERING sunburn in childhood have increased their chance of the deadliest type of skin cancer–melanoma skin cancer–tenfold! That’s right, they were TEN TIMES more likely to develop skin cancer than their peers who had not had severe skin damage as a child. The genetic injury to the skin cells that ultraviolet radiation causes is permanent and will be carried with your child for the rest of their days. I don’t think there is any doubt that a BLISTERING sunburn is really bad for you and your children.
Let’s review some things you need to consider at the beginning of the summer to make your next day in the sun as safe as possible:
*Use clothing with tight weaving or added sun protection to cover your children as much as possible. Hats, special swim clothes, and sunglasses with UV protection are great. Try to get clothes with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of at least 25 or better.

*Try never to talk about a “healthy tan,” and make sure you set a good example by protecting your skin as well.

*Avoid prolonged outdoor activities at peak sun times: 10am to 2pm.

*Try to stay in shade whenever possible.

*In children six months or older, use a good sunscreen on areas most prone to sun damage (THE TOPS): top of nose, top ears, top of feet, and top of shoulders. I recommend sunscreens with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Blue Lizard and Vanicream are two of my favorites. Put them on frequently and liberally!

*Early summer seems to be the time of year for the worst burns. Be especially careful in May/June.
Have fun, but be smart about it.