Benefits of Tanning | Teen Ink

Benefits of Tanning

May 31, 2009
By CaLoni Vance BRONZE, Winchester, Virginia
CaLoni Vance BRONZE, Winchester, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Tan skin is sexy skin. That is the message the media implants into the minds of young women and teenage girls everyday. The “bronzed” look has become such an obsession among females (and even some males) lately that the number of tanning salon memberships has skyrocketed over the past decade. While sunlight exposure has proven side effects, a growing number of scientists are now arguing that the benefits of UVR exposure seem to outweigh the harmful factors. The public needs to be made more aware of the fact that both indoor and natural tanning can be beneficial in certain cases.

Last year over the summer, I developed a very intense case of eczema. My case escalated to the point where the rash would dry out and leave a white patch on my skin. To fix this dilemma, I went to see my dermatologist who announced without a doubt that easy prevention of the rash would be going to a tanning bed. Shockingly, UVA rays do wonders for eczema and other forms of rashes. I began tanning soon after this appointment and within a week or two, my skin healed. The fact that tanning can clear skin is something that more people need to be made aware of, especially those who suffer from skin problems like eczema.
An excellent benefit of exposure is sunlight’s ability to boost Vitamin D in the body. It is a fact that Vitamin D deficiency occurs because the body lacks sun. Along with this, a scientifically proven benefit of sunlight is that it treats Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a depression that affects individuals during the winter months. These individuals experience dark moods that follow a seasonal schedule, with depression usually coming in the fall and lasting through spring. The cause of SAD is linked with two primary chemicals in the brain, melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is related to sleep and is produced in larger quantities during the dark and shorter days. Melatonin is what causes victims of SAD to be sleepy, lethargic, and depressed. The combat to this chemical is its opposite, serotonin. Serotonin is produced more heavily during daylight hours. Therefore, lower levels of serotonin are related to depression. Serotonin can be raised and released when a person is exposed to sunlight, and the greater that amount of serotonin, the less melatonin in the brain. Evidence suggests that lack of sunlight in the winter triggers SAD. Norman E. Rosenthal, a psychiatrist at Georgetown University Medical Center, believes that the cause may be insensitivity to light. Because of this, light therapy is recommended for sufferers of SAD. This type of therapy involves sitting in front of a 10,000 lux (a measure of light) light source everyday, similar to a tanning bed. Therefore, use of a tanning bed can also be diagnosed to those with SAD.

The big question now is whether the benefits of the sun’s rays can outweigh the risks. It is clear that there is a need to rethink the typical sun exposure policy and consider the fact that it has been proven that the sun can treat depressions like SAD. Along with this, personal experience says that sunlight can get rid of serious skin diseases and treat future break outs. It is obvious that the media and public health messages need to focus on ways to balance the idea that sunlight is good in quantities and should not be feared.

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