“Will a tanning bed affect the production of my breast milk? Can it harm my little one as well?”
These are questions most lactating moms have about tanning. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, then you should consider reading our post. Most lactating mothers fret over the health conditions of their newborn baby. You might want a lovely beach tan, but can you go tanning while breastfeeding? Here, we look at the answer to the question and address any other concerns that you may have about tanning beds while breastfeeding.
What Is A Tanning Bed?
A tanning bed or a sun bed is a technological device that tans the skin artificially. A typical tanning bed emits 95% UVA and 5% UVB. The ultraviolet radiation produces an artificial tan. Most artificial tanning beds make use of several fluorescent lamps, which can emit high-intensity UVB rays that can have many side effects (1).
Types Of Tanning Beds:
According to the intensity of UV rays on the lamp, there are different varieties of tanning beds available in the market:
- A typical home tanning bed consists of 15 to 28 lamps, where each lamp emits 100 watts power of UV rays.
- Tanning beds at salons comprise of 25 to 60 lamps, each of 120 to 200 watts.
- High-pressure beds are special models of tanning beds consisting of metal –halide gas lamps. These lamps emit a higher level of UVA rays. The Cobalt glass filter regulates the emission of the UV rays.
The tanning beds can be a stand in or lie-down model. Most tanning beds consist of the lamps on the top and bottom.
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How UV Rays Cause Skin Tanning?
UV rays initiate the process of tanning in the human skin. Melanin is an essential pigment of our skin, which handles the skin coloration. The two types of UV rays UVA and UVB penetrate into the outer epidermis of the skin and harshly affect the pigmentation process.
Here are two activities of UV rays, to initiate tanning:
- The UVA rays oxidize the melanin, and the pigment undergoes a typical chemical reaction. After melanin gets exposed to the UVA rays, it turns darker and tans the skin.
- The UVB rays enhance the production of the skin pigment, Melanin. As the content of melanin increases, it turns the skin darker and tans the skin (2).
Tanning Beds To Cause Skin Tanning:
Tanning beds utilize artificial lamps, to produce UV rays. The artificially emitted UV rays affect the pigmentation process and initiate skin tanning. The tanning beds of old emit UVB rays, which are extremely harmful to the body. With the intervention of latest technology, modern tanning beds emit UVA rays, which initiate the process of skin tanning.
Tanning Bed While Breastfeeding – Is It Safe?
can you use a tanning bed while breastfeeding? Although there are no evidence to prove that tanning has any negative impact on breastfeeding mothers. But it is always advisable to cover up your nipples, before using a tanning bed. The high temperature of the tanning bed can induce dehydration in lactating mothers.
Additionally, the UV rays can increase the risks of skin wrinkling or cancer. So, stay away from the tanning bed and stay safe. If you do want to get a tan, a natural tan is the best possible alternative. Sit in your balcony or on the beach. But, carry an umbrella, as excessive sun exposure can harm your skin.
[ Read: Common Breastfeeding Problems ]
Negative Effects Of Tanning Beds While Breastfeeding:
Tanning beds initiate artificial tanning of the skin. Some of the potential risks of tanning beds typically include:
- Skin Cancer:
When the outer layer of the epidermis (skin) is exposed to the UV rays, enzymes initiate to repair the skin damage. However, some of the enzymes work adversely and initiate the growth of cancerous cells such as melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. The deadliest form of skin cancer is prevalent and can occur at any age. If you are younger than 35 years, avoid using the tanning beds.
- Eye Problems:
The UV rays in the tanning beds, not only harm the skin but the eyes as well. It increases the risk of eye cancer or ocular melanoma in humans. Some individuals may encounter eye irritation after using tanning beds. Some other eye problems that can develop with use of tanning beds include inflammation of the cornea, photo conjunctivitis, and conjunctiva.
- Skin Aging And Wrinkling:
Excessive exposure to UV rays can trigger the process of premature aging and skin wrinkling. The skin may sag, and small dark spots may develop on your face.
- Hampers The Immune System:
Excessive exposure to UV rays can hamper the functioning of the immune system. Your body may become less resistive against disease-producing germs and more vulnerable to diseases (3).
Advice For Breastfeeding Mothers Who Prefer To Use Tanning Beds:
Although tanning does not have any negative impact on your breastfed child, there are few pieces of advice you need to know during the breastfeeding phase:
- Consult your doctor before your decide on a tan. Tanning increases the risk of skin cancer. Your doctor may check your health condition and advise you about tanning.
- While using a tanning bed, breastfeeding mother should never go topless. If the nipples are kept exposed to UV rays, they might get burnt. It could increase your discomfort while breastfeeding the baby.
- Breastfeeding with sunburn can further initiate extreme skin irritation. The mother may find it difficult to control the unbearable irritation.
- There are many tanning salons, who recommend using a tanning solution before going to the tanning bed. Remember that you should not apply the tanning lotion around the nipples.
Breastfeeding mothers need to be cautious, before trying anything new. Tanning is a natural phenomenon. However, consult your doctor before you use any artificial tanning beds.
Did you use tanning beds during breastfeeding? Did you encounter any health discomforts? If you have any questions, suggestions or stories to share with us, tell us about your experiences here. Leave a comment below!
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