Sunless Tanning: Skin Cancer Prevention

There are many ways to prevent skin cancer. Exposing yourself to UV radiation is the most common and avoidable cause of skin cancer. A few of them are: avoiding the sun during the middle of the day, wearing sunscreen year-round, wearing protective clothing, avoiding tanning beds, being aware of sun-sensitizing medications, and checking your skin regularly for any abnormalities or new growths that may appear.  Don’t want to damage your skin but still want a tan? Sunless tanning products were used among 10.8 percent of US adolescents in the past year. This safe alternative to sun bathing, whether you consider that the natural sun or the concentrated UV rays found in a tanning salon, is always the better option when taking steps towards a cancer-free life.

Many young white adults and even adolescents willingly expose and overexpose themselves to UV rays largely because of the prevailing perceived attractiveness of tanned skin. It has become a cultural activity, and in many cases a social event to go to the tanning salons or beaches with the goal of a darker shade in mind.

Sunless tanning products can help you achieve that desired tan look without having to expose yourself to harmful UV rays. Sunless tanning products, also known as self-tanners, are commonly sold in the form of creams, gels, lotions and sprays that are topically applied to your skin. Professional spray tanning is also available at many tanning salons and spas.

The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and when applied to the skin, reacts with dead cells in the outermost layer of the skin to temporarily darken its appearance. It is important to note that most sunless tanning products do not contain sunscreen, so exercise caution and apply sunscreen into your daily routine.

Fellowship-trained Dr. Cameron Rokhsar is a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon. He has seen the effects UV ray exposure has on skin and the role it plays in developing skin cancer. As a skin cancer and Mohs Surgeon expert, he can effectively diagnose and treat patients with cancer and advise those who wish to take skin cancer preventative measures, such as sunless tanning. Avoiding the sun is the best way to avoid sunburns and suntans that cause skin damage and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

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