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As of this writing, some states still have tanning salons on COVID-19 shutdown. But for those that have re-opened for business, the tanners are crawling out of their caves and slowly venturing out seeking some much-needed UV exposure. The “anti-tanning” base still exists and are out there, once again trying to drive us back into the COVID cave. Witness this nugget of wisdom from a recent article in The Missoulian: missoulian.com/opinion/columnists/melanoma-kills-20-americans-each-day/article_f796fc95-fd76-535b-8e5d-24e7b2806576.html
“Much of the current increase seen in melanoma in adults can be attributed to excessive exposure to UV radiation that is cumulative across a lifetime, starting in childhood and in the young adult years. Therefore, preventing UV exposure from tanning bed use in children and teens is an important way to help reduce their risk of melanoma and to aid in prevention efforts against this cancer.”
Now, here’s my dissection of this statement: What percentage of indoor tanners are actually children? With the bans on under-18 tanners, how many are teens? Yet, that’s the message here. Let’s get out the binoculars and take a look at all of the kids returning to pools, parks, beaches, ball fields, playgrounds, tennis courts, lakes and basketball courts and witness the exposure to extreme UV from natural sunlight blasting down on these kids. It’s not the gradual exposure that comes from the milder angle of the sun as we acclimate coming out of the winter. Nope, right into the frying pan of summer sun. How many parents will take the time to adequately “slip, slap, slop” the proper amount and level of SPF on their kids and reapply as needed throughout the day, every day? How many sunburns (which do have a cumulative effect and association to skin cancer) will they suffer? But no mention of this issue – just the typical “stay out of sunbeds” mantra.
I find this omission in a so-called health message totally irresponsible. Why not take a pragmatic direction? Public service messages are meant to advise and drive awareness. Perhaps, consider this: “As we begin to return to outdoor recreation from staying indoors due to the health crisis, be mindful of the intensity of the summer sun. Use the proper amount of the correct SPF level for your skin and exposure and re-apply as needed, understanding that perspiration and water will reduce the effectiveness. Be aware of the increased solar intensity between 10am-2pm and reflective surfaces such as sand and water that also amplify the intensity. Indoor tanning allows for moderate and responsible UV exposure. Directed by individual skin type, professional salon operators assign exposure times delivered with a timing system that reduces the risk of overexposure and erythema (sunburn), which can gradually acclimate the skin to moderate outdoor UV exposure.” Much more informative, yes?
Now that’s a message from which tanners and non-tanners, alike, can benefit.
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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