I am thinking of undertaking a very short course of sunbed treatments

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I am going on holiday next month and am feeling rather pasty. I am thinking of undertaking a very short course of sunbed treatments just to get a base tan, but my friends say it would be dangerous. Could such a short course be detrimental to my long term health?
Amelie Sweeting, Kensington

 

A tan is your body’s attempt to protect itself from the damaging effect of UV rays so sunbeds are no safer than tanning in the sun, and may be more harmful depending on the strength of the sunbed’s UV rays.  Ultraviolet (UV) rays increase your risk of developing skin cancer (both malignant and non-malignant melanoma). Many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than midday tropical sun.

People under 25 frequently are at greater risk of developing skin cancer in later life and time on sunbeds can cause skin to age prematurely, look coarse, leathery and wrinkled. Skin damage from UV rays can take up to 20 years to appear and can damage your eyes, particularly if you don’t wear goggles.

Don’t use sunbeds if you’ve fair, sensitive skin that burns easily and tans slowly, or have a history of childhood sunburn. Also beware if you’ve lots of freckles and moles or take medicines or use creams that make your skin sensitive to sunlight.  If you still decide to use a sunbed limit your sessions and tell the operator about your skin type.

However there is a safer option.  Before you go away I advise you to apply one of the many moisturisers containing…..which gives your skin a healthy looking glow at no risk.