Negative Effects of Tanning Beds on the Skin

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Many people in the United States use tanning beds every day. However, tanning has many negative effects on the skin, and can even cause cancer. Tanning beds are devices that use fluorescent lamps that emit UV rays to produce a skin tan. Most people tan because they are concerned about their appearance. People want to be considered beautiful by others and to have more pleasant features. The stereotypical good looking person in our society is usually a thin female or muscularly built male with nice hair and tan skin. Recently there has been an incredible amount of pressure placed upon females, especially teenagers, to become what we consider to be a beautiful person.

There are three levels of your skin; these levels are called the epidermis, the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue. The level that is most effected by tanning is the epidermis. The epidermis is the thin top layer; it contains cells called keratinocytes which continuously divide to replace skin lost from erosion that occurs daily. The bottom portion of the epidermis contains cells called melanocytes which produce a dark pigment called melanin. Melanin is what is created after skin becomes exposed to UV rays, to protect your skin. This pigment is a dark brown color which we know as a “tan”.

UV rays are part of the light spectrum from the sun that reaches the earth. There are two types of UV rays, the first being UVA, and the second UVB. UVA rays contain long wavelengths that penetrate deep into the skin. Small amounts of UVA rays can cause skin to tan, but overexposure can lead to long term skin damage, and skin cancer. On the other hand, UVB rays have a much shorter wavelength, and affect the superficial layers of the skin. UVB rays are what burn...

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