Does Tanning Help Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that can not only be detrimental to a person’s self esteem, but can also be quite painful. Perhaps you suffer from acne and are wondering if tanning can help

It is a well known fact within the medical community that UV radiation can not only heal acne, but can also heal a number of other skin conditions and diseases, such as psoriasis. These facts lead many people to believe that they can heal their acne by visiting tanning salons, but is this really the case?

Here at Tanoholic, we have set out on a mission to answer this question once and for all. By analyzing the available literature and research on this topic, we dove deep into the nitty-gritty to uncover the truth behind the myth: Does Tanning Help Acne?

Acne and Uv Radiation

In order to answer this question, the first thing we need to understand is that UV radiation has actually been scientifically proven to help clear up acne, along with a number of other skin conditions. UV radiation is used by dermatologists in the form of phototherapy.Video Explaining Phototherapy:

While the lights and booths used in phototherapy look similar to those used in a tanning salon, they are not the same. This is because the lights used in phototherapy devices are high-quality, medical-grade, UV lights. These lights have been scientifically tested and designed to provide efficient medical treatment without causing any harm to the patient.

You are likely already aware that tanning can cause cancer. This is true whether you’re using a tanning bed, or sun tanning outside. In fact, using a tanning bed specifically can increase your chances of developing melanoma by 75%. Dr. Timothy Berger, an acne expert, states that although dermatologists may use phototherapy in the same UV wavelength as is used for tanning, the process of tanning is simply not healthy for skin.

Video of Dr. Timothy Berger Talking About Tanning:

Does Tanning Help Acne?

Now that we understand a bit more about UV light and how it is used to treat skin conditions using phototherapy, the question still remains – Can Tanning Actually Improve Your Acne, or Make It Worse?

An academic study published in 2015 reviewed evidence regarding the use of tanning salons in the treatment of various skin conditions. The study concluded that there is evidence showing support that tanning beds may improve many of these conditions, specifically because UVA and UVB light have anti-inflammatory effects.

However, when it comes to clearing up acne by tanning, this study states that the available evidence is lacking, as there have been no clinical trials conducted that support the use of tanning bed lights as an acne treatment.

Despite this, the scientists also note that a study conducted in Sweden found that 34% of individuals who sunbathed in natural light saw an improvement in their acne. Therefore, the scientists have concluded that tanning might help improve acne.

Acknowledging the Risks Vs. Rewards

Before you skip over to the tanning salon with hopes of clear skin and sign-up for that monthly membership, there are a number of other factors that you should consider first. While it’s clearly likely, based on the evidence above, that tanning can at least improve the appearance of your acne, it is certainly not the best treatment option out there. Here’s why:

  • The American Academy of Dermatology reports that using tanning to decrease acne has not be scientifically proven. This means that, while some individuals may claim that they saw an improvement in their acne after tanning, it’s very important not to base fact on a handful of testimonials–especially when it comes to your health.
  • Tanning, whether sunbathing or using tanning beds, significantly increases your risk of cancer. If this is something that you aren’t taking seriously, check out this story about Ashley Trenner, a heavy user of tanning beds who passed away in 2013, at age 40, after developing melanoma. So, before you choose tanning as your preferred acne treatment, you will want to consider if these types of risks are worth the reward.
  • Circling back to those individuals who claim that their acne was improved by tanning, it could be that these individuals are being fooled by an illusion. According to the Nemour Foundation, a tan can simply hide acne by covering redness without actually healing it.
  • The products used for tanning can also make acne worse. If you do decide to tan when you have acne, be sure to select an oil-free sunscreen, as traditional sunning and tanning products are typically rich with oils which only serve to clog pores even more. A good choice is a noncomedogenic sunscreen, such as this one, which will not clog pores, even if used daily.
  • Another important factor to consider when tanning with acne is that many acne medications and creams contain tretinoin and antibiotics which increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. Therefore, if you are using these products and go tanning, you are increasing your risks of cancer and other negative side effects, such as peeling and redness.
  • Lastly, visiting tanning beds can cause acne rather than reduce it. According to Johns Hopkins University, the tanning salon environment encourages bacterial growth. However, bacteria is not the only threat. According to Dr. Timothy Berger, “There are certain skin diseases, like pseudoporphyria, that can be induced by tanning beds.”

acne

Conclusion

So, what can you take away from this? While UV light can heal acne and tanning specifically may show some signs of improvement, tanning is simply not a safe acne treatment option. Compared to other treatments available, it’s probably not as effective either. In the case of acne and tanning, the risks clearly outweigh the rewards. Overall, if you are interested in using UV light to improve your acne, skip the tanning bed and visit your dermatologist instead.

  • Sources:
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4374067/ – ‘A Review of the Use of Tanning Beds as a Dermatological Treatment’ – NCBI
  2. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/acne#tips – ‘Tips for Managing Acne’ – American Academy of Dermatologists
  3. https://www.livestrong.com/article/75122-tanning-beds-acne/ – Tanning Beds and Acne’ – Livestrong
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