Summertime is fun time and also the time to get a glorious tan. However, a tan in winters is also possible these days thanks to instant tanning procedures like tanning booths and beds. After all; who doesn’t want that sun-kissed Beach God/Goddess look in the blustery winter weather? However; tanning, when not done right, can give rise to a plethora of skin issues, number one among which is tanning bed heat rashes (or tanning rashes).
In this guide, we will tell you ways in which you can avoid heat rashes stemming from tanning beds and booths and tips to tan safely.
What is tanning bed heat rash? Why does it occur?
Most tanning beds are safe as they give us a controlled tan using UV light with an index that is just right for human skin. However, many people develop a heat rash following a session in these booths or beds. The rash seems to suddenly appear and its symptoms often last for weeks. These generally include:
- Small red or white bumps on the skin
- Red prickly heat like rash on neck, arms, back etc
- The rash might be inflamed or extremely itchy
- Scratching the rash often leads to pus formation or bacterial skin infections.
Let us now consider some reasons why tanning bed heat rashes appear:
- Unsanitary conditions– Most professional tanning centers use necessary safety precautions such as cleaning the bed after use. However, not all places follow such basic safety/hygiene rules. Tanning is usually done in the nude and people often sweat a great deal during the session. When left unclean, tanning beds can lead to bacterial skin infections and rashes on people with sensitive skin.
- Overexposure– People who have the tendency of developing heat rashes in the hot summer months are also more likely to develop tanning bed heat rashes. Their skin simply cannot withstand the heat and UV index and since their sweat glands are likely clogged, they break out into a terrible rash on the arms, neck, elbows, and other exposed body parts.
- Cleaning solutions used by tanning professionals– Some people have reported a heat rash only on their thighs following a tanning session. This can actually be attributed to overzealous cleaning! Certain solutions used by the professionals are known to contain chemicals that irritate the skin and lead to boils, pimples and pustules on the skin.
- Delayed rash– Some tanners only experience the rash a few days after their tanning session. They are usually fine immediately after the session but might break out into reddish-purplish rashes the next day. This can again be attributed to skin dryness or tightening which comes from the exposure to heat and UV index. The skin’s sweat glands shrivel and close up as a result of which the sweat remains trapped underneath the surface. This causes a heat rash due to tanning.
How to prevent heat rashes from tanning beds?
If you are very much in love with artificial tanning but tend to break out into rashes, you must take following precautions to prevent them:
- Always go to a certified professional and well-maintained tanning salon.
- Carry some baby wipes along, just as you would in a gym, and wipe down the bed from top to bottom prior to getting in.
- It is best to obtain a note from your doctor whether you are a good candidate for tanning. For example, people with very fair skin or those having skin cancer in their family should refrain from artificial and natural tanning completely.
- Applying a sunscreen with SPF 15++ and full spectrum UVA and UVB protection can help prevent tanning rashes or skin eczemas to an extent.
- One can even use some soothing Aloe Vera gel or lotion following the tan. This can significantly cool down the skin and reduce possibility of heat rashes.
- You can also use some over-the-counter 1% Hydrocortisone cream on the skin following the tanning session. This can significantly reduce possibility of developing a rash.
- If you are allergic to certain ingredients used in tanning sprays and lotions, you might want to take an antihistamine tablet after the session. This will certainly prevent rashes from developing.
- Take a cool shower or soak in a tub having colloidal oatmeal in it. This will soothe the skin and reduce inflammation.
- Avoid further sun exposure as this can aggravate the tanning bed heat rash.
- It is best to wear loose cotton clothing and use only non chemical based, non irritating perfumes and moisturizers whilst suffering from tanning rashes. Failure to do so might make the rash worse.
These tips will certainly help you prevent and treat tanning heat rashes. However, do note that you might have to avoid tanning beds completely even if your skin has healed, otherwise, the rash might return. Talk to your doctor about other options like tanning lotions or pills and whether these are right for you.