Can Tanning Damage Internal Organs?

Almost every year since 1987, when we opened Tan Plus, someone asks us if you can fry your insides in a tanning unit. Their question is based on a story they had heard that goes something like this:

The day before her wedding a woman needs to achieve a quick suntan. She spends the day going from one tanning salon to another doing 30 minute sessions in each one. She was later admitted to a hospital and died as a result of her internal organs being cooked.

There may be variations of the story but, in every case, the person referring to the story doesen't seem to know the victims name (it is always a friend of a friend, etc.), the hospital where she was admitted, or even the town or city where the incident took place. The reason they don't know this is because "cooking your insides" from a tanning unit is a myth... it never happened. While excessive tanning exposure can result in long-term skin damage, it is not possible for UV exposures to "cook" ones insides, no matter how long or how much you tan.  Just think, if “frying your internal organs” was a natural effect of exposure to uv, there would be no beaches or sundecks.  In fact, there would be no life on earth since the sun and uv light is the source of all energy and life on the planet.

Indoor tanning represents a controlled method of obtaining a cosmetic tan. The tanning process occurs primarily within the outer layer (epidermis) of the skin. Sunlamps use a combination of UVB and UVA rays. A minimal amount of UVB is used to stimulate the production of melanin, while the UVA portion oxidizes (darkens) the rising pigment. UVB, being the shorter wavelength of the two, only offers enough energy to penetrate the epidermis. The UVA wavelength is longer and can penetrate through the epidermis and into the dermis (second layer of skin), with some migration into the subcutaneous (third) layer of skin. There isn't enough energy produced by these wavelengths to penetrate any further.

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