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Why Tanning and Teens Should Never Mix

There was a time when having a tan was considered to be a sign of good health. But given what we now know, it’s very clear that any kind of sun exposure can lead to severe skin problems in the future. However, that doesn’t always matter to today’s teenagers. Whether your teen is preparing for her prom or she plans to spend a lot of time outside this summer, you may want to consider the following and have a talk about proper skin protection.

It Can Cause Premature Aging

Teens may want to be seen as older than they are in many respects. They crave independence, so it’s no surprise that they’d even want to pass as being a few years older. Unfortunately, sun exposure can end up adding years to your face — and many teens will come to regret it.

Tanning and unprotected UV exposure can result in premature aging of the skin. Often, this takes the form of wrinkles, dark spots, and a leathery look and feel. Because UV rays break down the collagen and elastin fibers normally found in the skin of young, healthy people, too much tanning can cause a teenager to lose their looks prematurely. They might not notice these effects right away, but it will certainly matter down the line. If your teen is determined to have a nice tan for prom, consider discussing the serious effects spending time in a tanning bed can have.

It Won’t Treat Acne

Many teens (and parents alike) are under the impression that a “healthy” tan can treat other existing skin problems — namely, acne. The idea is that tanning can help to mask breakouts and acne scars. However, research shows that sun exposure does much more harm than good. Not only could you develop sunburn or wrinkles as a result, but you may actually end up darkening existing acne scars or make your breakouts worse due to excess dryness (which prompts additional sebum production and causes more acne!).

It may seem like some time spent in the sun could camouflage your pimples. But any effect you might notice in this regard is merely temporary. Your breakouts will likely be worse than they were before — plus, you can end up creating even more skin problems for yourself. If you need help with acne, you should see your dermatologist to develop a treatment plan, rather than relying on harmful misconceptions.

It Can Cause Skin Cancer

It is estimated that approximately 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. While staying out of the sun can help to protect your skin, keep in mind that indoor tanning comes with huge risks — even for younger people. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, women who have been indoor tanning are six times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in their 20s than those women who have never engaged in this practice.

While a skin cancer diagnosis may seem like a total impossibility to your teen, the truth is that even infrequent UV exposure can have dire consequences. In fact, anyone who uses a tanning bed even once before they turn 35 will increase their risk of developing melanoma by 75%. Ultimately, having sun-kissed skin is not worth taking that risk. A sunless tanner or mineral bronzer can give a similar effect without presenting harm to your teen’s long-term health.

If you’re worried about the skin problems your teen might face, it may benefit you and your teenager to consult an adolescent dermatology expert. When acne, premature aging, or other skin conditions are affecting your child, it helps to have help from a professional. To learn more, please contact us today.

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