Tanning beds are for those of us who want to get a tan without going to the beach, or to sunny places, where we have to lie in the sun for days on end just to get the kind of tan we want. There’s also a chance we won’t get a relatively even tan if we trust the sunlight available to all manner of creatures outdoors, and not the comfort of an indoor tanning salon! Free personal ad

But there are a few risks to using tanning beds and other artificial tanning devices, such as sun lamps. Instead of getting a tan in an outdoor environment where sunlight is diffused and possibly also shaded, you can get a tan indoors by exposing yourself directly to ultraviolet rays at close range. A bed would require you to lie still for a few hours while special low-radiation tanning bulbs burn a luscious bronze color onto the surface of your skin. The same principle applies to sun lamps and portable tanning implements.

But even if bulbs are only low-radiation, they are not 100% radiation-free. If you happen to have sensitive skin, constant exposure even to low radiation will cause complications, ranging from simple itchiness and blotching to melanoma, which is the most severe form of skin cancer. Liberal use of suntan lotion with the right SPF for the kind of bed or bulbs you are using – as they are usually classified by lighting strength – would normally keep these risks at bay, but the dangers of developing skin problems through overuse of tanning implements still certainly exists.

And these risks already apply to you if you are an adult. How much riskier could it be for children?

Children have more delicate bodies. They are generally more susceptible to the invasion of foreign substances such as diseases and radiation; exposure to harmful things for an extended period of time is sure to cause adverse reactions, faster than if they had the stronger, tougher bodies of adults. A child is at a much higher risk of contracting skin cancer than an adult. If possible, children should be warned against staying away from habitually staying in the sunlight after 10 AM, or staying inside a room where a tanning bed is located and being used on a regular basis.

Kids may be naturally curious about the tanning process and wish to experiment with it themselves. Even if they seek the supervision and consent of adults, it is best not to let them try indoor tanning until they reach adult age, and their bodies are no longer so vulnerable. However, this may be difficult if you have a particularly looks-conscious child on your hands. Adolescence is a tricky thing. The sooner one looks good the better, and if tanning beds appear to be the best way to get the kind of look that your budding teenager is gunning for, some extra vigilance may be required.