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Here's What You Need to Know About Sunbeds and What They Do to Your Skin

In the colder months, you may be missing that sun-kissed glow that your skin had, and be tempted to recreate it with the help of a sunbed, but is it safe?

Sunbeds work by exposing the skin to UV rays and UVB rays, the same way that sun tanning does, which can cause DNA damage. We know overexposure to the sun is bad for our skin and can leave it burned, leathery or wrinkled, but in recent years there has been a lot of talk about the link between cancer and sunbeds.

According to Cancer Research UK, sunbeds have no positive health benefits and that the use of these machines can increase melanoma risk by as much as 20 percent. The site also notes that these findings are supported by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which “agrees there is sufficient evidence to show that using sunbeds causes melanoma skin cancer.”

In comparison with lying in the midday Mediterranean sun, sunbeds give off UV rays that are multiple times stronger.

Other factors to be considered are how often you tan, the length of the sessions, your age and your skin type (individuals with fair and sensitive skin should not use the sunbed, although it's not recommended for anyone). Those with freckles or moles and individuals who are taking medication, or have a family history of skin cancer should avoid the use of sunbeds. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking just because you didn’t burn your skin while using a sunbed, that you didn’t cause any damage because it is not always visible right away. In fact, according to the NHS, the signs can take 20 years to appear.

Sunbeds are especially harmful to younger individuals, and those under the age of 25 are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer later in life, the NHS reports. Also, those who experience sunburn in childhood are at greater risk. Thankfully, in many countries, the use of sunbeds is controlled, and individuals under the age of 18 are restricted from using them.

There are also a few myths surrounding sunbeds that need to be busted, for starters, the claim that they are a great way to get Vitamin D (if you live in a cold, dark climate, there are supplements to take for this). It is also not considered safer to use a sunbed than tan in the sun, nor will it protect your skin from sunburn.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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