There is no such thing as a safe tan. The increase in skin pigment, called melanin, which causes the tan color change in your skin is a sign of damage.
Once skin is exposed to UV radiation, it increases the production of melanin in an attempt to protect the skin from further damage. Melanin is the same pigment that colors your hair, eyes, and skin. The increase in melanin may cause your skin tone to darken over the next 48 hours.
Skin tones that are capable of developing a tan, typically skin types II through V, will probably darken in tone within two days.
Evidence suggests that tanning greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. And, contrary to popular belief, getting a tan will not protect your skin from sunburn or other skin damage. The extra melanin in tanned skin provides a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of about 2 to 4; far below the minimum recommended SPF of 15.
Sun tan is an important cause of Actinic or Solar Keratoses.
A fourth type of growth, actinic or solar keratoses, is a concern because it can progress into cancer. Actinic keratoses are considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer, and are caused by long-term exposure to sunlight. They are the most common pre-malignant skin condition, occurring in more than 5 million Americans each year.
Actinic or solar keratoses share some of the symptoms of skin cancer. Look for raised, rough-textured, or scaly bumps that occur in areas that have been sunburned or tanned.
Most cases of actinic keratoses are easily treated in a dermatologist’s office by removing them with liquid nitrogen or chemical peels.
Actinic or solar keratoses are the most common pre-malignant skin condition. Check with your doctor if you find any suspicious-looking bumps.