Pros & Cons of Using a Tanning Bed

While most people are familiar with the dangers of spending too much time in the sun, some feel as though tanning beds are a safe way to gain an attractive tan, and may even think that there are some health benefits to using tanning beds. When deciding whether to tan in a tanning bed, it is important to remember the health risks as well as potential health benefits.

The inside of a tanning bed. (Image: Pyrosky/iStock/Getty Images)

Cancer Risk

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, tanning in a tanning bed increases your risk of cancer. Tanning beds have been associated with squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which are skin cancers, as well as ocular melanoma, which is an eye cancer. Failure to wear goggles increases your risk of eye cancer.

Premature Aging

Tanning bed use can cause a loss of elasticity in the skin, which leads to wrinkling. The UV rays that cause the skin to tan in a tanning bed also can cause eye problems such as cataracts and photoconjunctivitis. Excessive amounts of UV exposure can cause a drop in immunity, making the person more susceptible to becoming ill with infectious diseases.


People with fair skin are likely to burn in a tanning bed. Also, some people with sensitive skin may have an allergic reaction to the UV radiation and will experience a red, itchy rash. Those with darker skin also can burn and experience skin damage.

Health Benefits

There is a possibility that the use of tanning beds can increase your vitamin D level. However, normal exposure to the sun as well as consuming vitamin D through the diet is preferable. Some people may benefit from the radiation from tanning beds. Those with dermatitis and psoriasis may find relief with medically supervised treatment with UV rays. Self-treatment at a commercial tanning bed, however, is not recommended.

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