A bronze glow seems to be appealing for many people, but they may not have the time it takes to sit in the sun to achieve that glow. Seeking out rays at a tanning a salon is a popular trend where there are a variety of tanning beds to choose from. These tanning beds differ in the intensity and type of ultra violet light emitted. Tanning beds may offer you the desired effect almost immediately, but also come with many risk factors.
In the early 20th century a medical company in Germany developed an ultraviolet lamp as part of medical research. It was thought that the UV light would help develop calcium and stronger bones in patients with diseases such as rickets. Seventy years later, in 1970, a German scientist by the name of Friedrich Wolff used an ultraviolet tanning lamp to conduct research on the effects on athletes. It was at this time that Wolff noticed an effect he wasn't necessarily expecting. The athletes developed tanned skin after sitting under the UV lamp. Having a golden glow was popular in the 1970's so Wolff applied his scientific knowledge to the development of the first indoor tanning bed.
After tanning beds first came on the market in Europe and were so popular, American developers soon jumped into production. The first tanning beds produced in the US emitted high levels of ultraviolet B (UVB) light, which does cause tanning, but can also result in sunburn and lead to other skin disorders. More research was conducted and it was determined that tanning lamps containing higher percentages of ultraviolet A(UVA) light could still produce a tan and would also be safer on the skin.
Tanning beds differ in the amount of UVB and UVA rays emitted. Low-pressure, medium-pressure and high-pressure tanning beds are typically found at most tanning salons. Low-pressure beds release higher levels of UVB rays, which are known to burn the skin, and lower levels of UVA rays. Medium-pressure tanning beds feature a higher intensity bulb than a low-pressure bed and emit fewer UVB rays. High-pressure tanning beds release higher amounts of UVA rays, penetrating deeper into the skin, and lower amounts of UVB, therefore are less damaging to the skin than low-pressure beds.
Most tanning beds appear casket like with bulbs on the bed you lay on as well as bulbs on the lid you pull down over you. The purpose of this is so you do not have to flip over. However, you tend to get marks on different areas of your body that crease when lying down (under buttocks). Many high-pressure tanning beds actually have a mattress you lay on and flip over to help eliminate these untanned creases. Most tanning beds also feature special bulbs built in for facial tanning which can be turned on or off, built-in timers, radios and fans. You may even find some tanning beds with misting machines built in and aromatherapy options.
The main benefit of tanning beds is you tan your skin in a short amount of time no matter what the weather is outside. High-pressure tanning beds, in particular, emit the most UVA rays which penetrate the skin deeper offering a longer-lasting tan. Tanning beds have been known to produce other positive effects. Tanning beds are sometimes used to treat acne, muscle pain, and Seasonal Affective Disorder otherwise known as SAD.
The risk factors associated with tanning beds seem to outweigh the benefits. Prolonged exposure to any form of ultra violetlight increases chances for developing skin cancer. Tanning beds emit such powerful doses of ultraviolet light they increased risks for health effects as compared to sun tanning. Careful attention should be paid to any changes in the skin or a mole that include scaling, itching, color change, size of mole, or bleeding. Self-examinations that result in finding any of these skin conditions should be addressed by a doctor. There is also the risk of developing cataracts and contracting infections such as or pubic lice, otherwise known as crabs, from tanning beds that are not properly sanitized. Infections could range from a cold or flu to pinkeye.