The relationship between tanning beds and acne is a complicated one. Many believe that tanning beds can help heal or reduce the appearance of acne, either because of the drying effect of tanning or because they think that tanning will “even out” the skin tone and make acne less visible. However, neither theory is based on scientific evidence, and both are misguided.
Indeed, the reality of tanning beds is that there is no scientific evidence that they can help clear up acne. In fact, tanning beds are more likely to worsen the skin’s appearance by contributing to fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of premature aging. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that tanning beds (similar to outdoor sun exposure) can lead to skin cancer.
It’s true that there’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence that tanning improves the appearance of acne. However, the truth is that any improvement is highly temporary, because even though the darkening of the skin can mask the redness associated with acne, it does not heal the acne and as soon as the tan fades, the acne will still be there.
How Do Tanning Beds Affect Existing Scars?
Just as with acne, there seems to be a common belief that tanning beds can mask the appearance of existing scars. Many people use tanning beds in an attempt to darken the skin around the scar, camouflaging the scar and reducing its visibility. But how an individual scar will respond to tanning is unpredictable. A newer scar may become inflamed in response to UV rays and the result may be delayed healing or even a permanent darkening of the scar. Older scars may not tan at all, resulting in a stark white scar made even more visible next to the darker surrounding skin. In either case, the result is obviously not desirable.
Besides, tanning beds are simply not advisable due to the reasons mentioned above. They contribute to skin cancer and premature aging, and simply do not achieve what many hope for: clearer skin and less noticeable scars.
A Safer Option
A much safer and healthier option likely to yield better results than a tanning bed is the spray tan. The response of a scar to a spray tan is also difficult to predict, but a spray tan is more likely to achieve the desired result than a tanning bed. Also, you won’t be exposing yourself to harmful UV rays in the process. The masking effects of a spray tan on a scar may vary depending on the age of the scar, but in general, spray tans are less likely to worsen the appearance of the scar than tanning beds.
Keep in mind that a spray tan does not provide protection against the sun’s UV rays, so you should still use sunscreen when you go outdoors to protect your scar and the rest of your skin. Be sure to test a small, inconspicuous area of your skin to make sure you don’t have an undesirable reaction to the product.
Do you have a question about your scar? Leave a comment and let us know!
Subscribe to Scars and Spots to get our posts delivered directly to your inbox!The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please speak to your doctor to treat any medical condition. Information on this site is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.