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Answer most often given: It’s those darned microwaves!
Question: Why should pregnant women avoid indoor tanning?
Among the most popular and repeated urban myths about sunbeds, this one is (of course) false. As Sun is Life® Certification graduates are well aware, UV light emitted by sunbed lamps lacks sufficient energy to penetrate skin past the subcutaneous layer.
Experts say that during pregnancy, women should avoid all sources of heat, such as a jacuzzi, whirlpool or sauna, as well as sunbeds. Pregnant women who choose to tan indoors should obtain their physician’s approval due to the possibility of elevating their core body temperature, which can affect the fetus. However, listen up: this next point is important, regardless of obtaining a doctor’s note or not. The fact that a woman’s physician approves of tanning indoors in no way, shape or form, absolves a salon from liability for ANY potential accident at the facility.
Let’s say one of your best customers informs you she is pregnant, shows you a doctor’s note and lines up several months worth of tanning sessions. Along the way, after about a month, she (heaven forbid) slips on a wet floor in your salon and bumps her belly on a door knob. She reports to you that her belly hurts and goes to see her doctor. I’m sure you can see the direction this could take. Of course, it could also lead to a story in your local paper: “Pregnant woman injured in tanning bed mishap.” And then, the microwave myth will surely follow.
Many salon operators will suggest “freezing” the woman’s membership until after the pregnancy when she wishes to return to moderate and responsible tanning sessions. Let’s move on.
During a Sun is Life classroom session several years ago, I had a salon owner ask me about breast milk. (Of course, I blushed a little.) The question was, “Does indoor tanning have a negative effect on breast milk production?” Well, at the time, I simply did not know. But I did research the topic and found that the well known La Leche League International had the answer. “No evidence exists that the use of tanning beds has any effect on human milk or breast-fed babies.” That said, they suggest protecting breasts from potential sunburn or overexposure. I also found some anecdotal evidence that as UV exposure does pull moisture from the skin, it “could” have a dehydrating effect.
So, in sum, I have not found any restriction in any state regarding pregnancy and indoor tanning. But remember, if you choose to allow it, make sure you cover all of the aforementioned points.
My wife just leaned over to ask me what this month’s topic was. I assured her this was all in the name of providing education to IST readers.
A 26-year industry veteran, Joe has taught certified salon operator training for the last 15 years, as well as advocating indoor tanning in many capacities. Joe is a sought-after speaker and presenter at both national & regional trade events, also interacting with the FDA, state & local regulatory agencies. During his most recent tenure with the ITA, he served as director of membership.
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