Missed Part 1 of 3? Click  Are you Tanning Safely (Part 1 of 3)

Continuing on from part one of this ‘Are you Tanning Safely’ series to learn more about tanning creams and skin cancer.

How to Tan?

How do tanning lotions or creams work?

Certain active ingredients like Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) inteacts with the dead skin cells. DHA is a colorless sugar that interacts with the dead cells located in the stratum corneum of the epidermis. As the sugar interacts with the dead skin cells a colour change occurs. This change usually last about five to seven days from the initial application. Tanning accelerators, in lotion or pill form, usually containing an amino acid tyrosine which stimulates and increases melanin (produced by the melanocytes) formation accelerating the tanning process.

For additional information on tanning creams and other alternatives: //chemistry.about.com/od/howthingsworkfaqs/f/sunlesstanning.htm.

Do keep in mind that most of these products do not include sun protection. You may need to apply sun protection for additional protection when you are exposed to the sun. Further information will be provided in part 3 of this series on sun protection.

How does prolonged exposure to sunlight cause skin cancer?

Every time the skin is exposed to the UV light there is a natural thickening of the corneum layer of the skin. This is due to an increase in cell proliferation and thickening of the layer just below the corneum layer. This results  the penetration of the UVB rays to the skin’s superficial layers is reduced. This is why the skin tends to show a burn hours after sun exposure. The skin’s ability to register when it has received enough or too much sunlight is damaged by this thickening process. A sun burn is a clear indication that the skin has been exposed to too much radiation. The long range UVA rays are still capable of penetrating deep into the living skin. It is through prolonged and/or frequent exposure to the sunlight that keeps the corneum thick enough not to burn and so we stay out for longer periods of time. The results of the over exposure in that the deeper layers of the epidermis receive far too much UV than it can handle and often skin cancer is the result. The dead superficial cells are not the direct contributor as they are already dead. It is the deeper live cells that much be taken better care of.

The more exposure has been shown to also affect the rate of proliferation in cells in a cumulative way by increasing their rate of replication. Additionally, the photochemical action of UV light alters the DNA templates resulting in rapid production of cells with an altered genetic pattern. Cancer skin cells are formed from this altered genetic pattern.

Additional resource for UV radiation: //www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/ultravioletradiation.html

There are three types of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma does not pollute or get into the blood stream.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma does not generally pollute or get into the blood stream however, if left unattended; it could get into the blood stream.

Malignant Melanoma quickly pollutes and gets into the blood stream. For detection of Malignant Melanoma, there are four areas when looking at a mole that help identify a potential concern: asymmetry (each side is not a mirror of the other), border (edges are not smooth but jagged), colour (the colour is not one uniform colour) and diameter (the size is larger than the size of the head of a pencil eraser).

When you consider the information that you have read already, it should be clear that the use of tanning beds can cause cell damage leading to skin cancer. It is also possible that without appropriate measures taken in general outdoor activity, an individual could also be at risk for skin cancer.

Additional resource for skin cancer: //www.skincancerguide.ca/

Why does tanning dry out the skin?

As the skin develops a thicker layer of dead skin cells at the corneum layer, it is very difficult for moisture in the air to be absorbed by the skin and restore it to its normal state of moisture. The cells below are living cells and need moisture to survive especially if they have been damaged due to UVA exposure. These living cells will hold onto the moisture to survive leaving nothing for the cells above it. This leaves these cells without moisture either from the air or from the lower living cells.

Stay tuned for the third part of this series and learn the difference in sunscreen protection so you can make a more informed decision on the sun protection for you and your family.

Have you been tanning safely?

All information used in this series was directly researched from the training received through the Esthetician program and through a website search. It is highly encouraged and recommended that you research further to better educate yourself and take the appropriate precautions for your own health and wellbeing.