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Skin Care and Diseases

Tanninng bed

09/01/2005

Question:

Can the use of a tanninng bed in gradual stages prevent sun poison to sensetive skin. As careful as I am with sunscreen and clothing, I get a dose of it every year and it is so hard to get rid of without seriod use. I am borderline osteo at this time for to frequent use of prednizone.

Answer:

There are two reactions that commonly are referred to as "sun poisoning". The first is called Polymorphous Light Eruption. Women are more likely to get this than men. It occurs in susceptible individuals when they are exposed to sunlight that is more intense than usual, for example as in the first time you go out in the sun during the summer or when you expose a body part to sunlight that has no prior sunlight exposure. It may also occur if you travel to a higher latitude or lower latitude such as to a country closer to the equator where the sunlight has more strength. Normally the resulting skin-rash reaction heals within 7-10 days with no treatment as long as additional sun exposure is avoided. In the future using sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays is mandatory. (Sunlight is made up of UVA and UVB rays). Make sure the sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA since these protective agents are more effective in preventing these breakouts. The second is called Solar Urticaria. It is a rare reaction to sun exposure. This is a true sun allergy. It develops rapidly--moments after exposure, the skin begins to itch, and then becomes red. Wheals or vesicles appear. The actual mechanism that causes this reaction is unknown, however, antihistamines are effective in treating the reactions of some patients. If you truly have sun poisoning, then any exposure to sun will cause a reaction, including a tanning bed. The best advice is to use sunscreen in adequate amounts. You should apply at least a shot glass full of sunscreen to your entire body prior to going out into the sun and reapply if you've been sweating. Wearing protective clothing also will help. Remember that sunlight can pass through loose weave light colored clothing so try and wear densely woven, dark colored clothing. You can also buy clothing with added UV protection or can add UV protection to existing clothing by washing them with a rinse made by RIT (Rit Sun Guard Laundry Treatment UV Protectant).

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Response by:

Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD Tatiana M Oberyszyn, PhD
Associate Professor of Pathology
Associate Professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University