How often do you tan

Solarium - tips and advice

How does a solarium work?

Sunlight is mimicked with different devices. Some only irradiate the face area or other parts of the body. Most solariums, however, are intended for the whole body - the UV light sources are arranged in the device in such a way that they illuminate the body from head to toe.

These light sources are special lamps, mainly tubular UV fluorescent lamps. They generate UV-A and UV-B rays. With different reflectors and filters as well as acrylic glass panes, the device manufacturers influence how much radiation ultimately reaches the customer's skin and what UV spectrum is created.

Why the solarium is harmful

There is still a widespread misconception that artificial UV light from the solarium is healthy. The intensity of the UV light on the tanning bed is significantly stronger than the UV component in sunlight in our latitudes - and therefore at least as harmful to the skin:

When the skin is exposed to UV radiation, many reactions are triggered that weaken the body's immune system. You can tell that, among other things, cold sores (herpes simplex) or a cold worsen when you stay in the sun. The defense against pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria or fungi) is significantly reduced, and parasitic diseases (e.g. malaria) are significantly longer and more severe after UV exposure.

Above all, however, many studies in recent years have shown that visits to the solarium promote skin cancer. The International Agency for Cancer Research has discovered: If you tan in the solarium once a month or twelve times a year when you are under 35, the risk of black skin cancer (melanoma) increases by 60 percent, with every additional visit to the solarium by a further 1.8 percent . The risk of white skin cancer increases by 102 percent for squamous cell carcinoma and by 40 percent for basal cell carcinoma if you start visiting the solarium before the age of 25.

You can read exactly what damage UV light can cause in the body in the article UV light

International and national groups of experts recommend avoiding solariums as a matter of principle.

Solarium: tips

Young people in particular use the solarium because they want to get a little bit of color. Others hope that the solarium will help against pimples. In fact, UV rays destroy sebum glands, but also the surrounding healthy skin tissue.

Pay attention to quality!

If you want to use the tanning bed despite the health risk, you should ensure that the tanning salon is of high quality:

  • Pay attention to the labeling of the device with 0.3 watts per square meter (W / m²). This is the maximum irradiance required by law since 2012, which corresponds to a UV index (UVI) of 12, which is classified as "extreme". The intensity of this radiation corresponds to that of the equatorial sun at noon at noon with a cloudless sky, which makes suitable protective measures "absolutely necessary".
  • The warning "Caution, UV radiation can damage the eyes and skin. Observe the protective instructions" should be clearly visible in the solarium.
  • Better to use benches that emit a radiation spectrum of 300 to 1300 nanometers. This corresponds to that of the sun and human skin is used to it.
  • Rely on tanning salons that can be regularly checked by an independent party and make a hygienic impression.
  • Employees should be trained in dealing with radiation. Ask for certificates to prove it. Staff should also be able to give you full advice on what sun duration and equipment intensity is right for your particular skin type.
  • Inquire whether the tanning salon implements all the measures of the statutory UV protection ordinance and what exactly the ordinance means.

Solarium: Tips for protecting skin and eyes

  • Do not use make-up or perfume. Otherwise, a chemical reaction with the UV rays can cause pigment spots and reddening.
  • Protect your eyes under the artificial light! Wear special UV protective goggles, otherwise the radiation will damage your eyesight.
  • Beware of medication! UV light can chemically change antibiotics, for example, so that allergies, skin irritations or skin blisters can occur. If you are taking any medication, be sure to talk to your doctor before visiting the solarium.
  • It is better not to go to the solarium if you are pregnant. The skin is very sensitive to pregnancy hormones. It is also believed that UV light breaks down folic acid - and this is important for your child.

Solarium: how often can it be?

Dermatologists recommend sunbathing for 10 to 15 minutes no more than 30 to 40 times a year and no more than three times a month. It doesn't matter whether the light is natural or artificial. It is best to make a note of your visits to the solarium in the calendar. Also count how often you have been lying on the balcony or on the beach. This is how you keep an overview. A vacation on the beach in Mallorca, for example, counts almost as an annual dose of the permitted amount of radiation.

The Federal Office for Radiation Protection also recommends taking a break of at least two days between the radiation units. In total, you should be on the sunbed a maximum of ten times a month - and only if you are not also at home on the balcony in the sun. After that, it's best to take a longer break.

Pre-tanning in the solarium?

Cheese white does not make people feel at home on the beach. But also to avoid sunburn on vacation, many people rely on pre-tanning in the solarium.

However, the skin can hardly prepare for the natural UV radiation of the sun in the solarium. The Dermatological Prevention Working Group points this out. Among other things, the proportion of UV-B radiation is often reduced in solariums. This causes sunburn, but it also stimulates the formation of a light callus - a protective thickening of the cornea. The sun loungers in the solariums, which mostly only work with UV light, do not have this protective effect: they cause a slight tan, but do not make the skin less sensitive to sunburn.

In addition: Even tanned skin is not immune to genetic damage caused by UV rays, which can lead to skin cancer. Every visit to the solarium increases the number of your total UV radiation dose and thus promotes skin cancer and premature skin aging.

Conclusion: Pre-tanning in the solarium is not only ineffective, it is even risky!

Who is the solarium taboo for?

Children and young people are subject to special protection. Since artificial UV radiation has been classified in the highest category of carcinogenic factors by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2009 (just like asbestos and tobacco), you can only use a solarium from the age of 18. But the tanning bed is also particularly risky for some adults. If one or more of the following factors apply to you, you should not visit the solarium:

  • You have light, sensitive skin (skin types 1 and 2).
  • You have a lot of moles.
  • You have noticeable pigment spots (raised, not specifically demarcated).
  • You had severe sunburns in childhood.
  • Skin cancer has occurred in your family.
  • You are or have already had skin cancer yourself.
  • You have had an organ transplant.

Before your first visit to the tanning bed, you should speak to your dermatologist. He can give you further tips and important information. He can also assess your skin type and tell you whether your skin is suitable for the solarium.

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