We are all well aware of the many dangers of tanning beds – premature wrinkling, hyperpigmentation and skin damage. The link between tanning beds and skin cancer is also tied. With long exposure to tanning beds, your chances for these unsightly and fatal conditions can skyrocket. But what happens when children use tanning beds?
Last week, a New Jersey woman was arrested for allegedly taking her 5-year old daughter tanning. Patricia Krentcil, 44, now infamously known as the “Tanning Bed Mom,” claims that she took her daughter to the tanning salon but did not expose her to the UV lights. However, her daughter told her teachers that she received her sunburn when she “went tanning with Mommy.”
Dr. Joel Schlessinger is appalled and saddened by the story of the “Tanning Bed Mom.” However, he does think it helps bring the dangers of tanning beds and skin cancer in small children to the public.
“This story highlights the dangers of tanning beds, while sadly showing the role that parenting plays in either teaching your children safe sun habits or encouraging a habit that will hurt them in the future. I frequently relate tanning to smoking, especially since the health hazards and addictiveness seem to go hand in hand,” says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
Children are especially susceptible to skin damage caused by UV rays found in tanning beds – children and teenagers’ bodies grow at such accelerated rates that their cells are more prone to UV damage. Tanning beds and skin cancer are closely related — using a tanning bed at a young age puts children at a far greater risk for developing this deadly disease.
In most states, children under the age of 14 are banned from tanning salons and teens between the ages of 14 and 18 must have parental supervision. As of January 1, California became the first state to ban use of tanning beds for all minors under the age of 18. You can find out your state’s official rules on tanning beds for minors here.
While Dr. Joel Schlessinger is shocked and dismayed by the story of the “Tanning Bed Mom,” he does think it teaches a great lesson on the dangers of tanning beds.
“If there is a silver lining, it is that the general public sees the tragedy of this situation and may come to their senses when it comes to teenagers going to tanning booths before prom or young adults before a wedding,” he says.