If you are looking to get a jump start on your tan for the spring and summer months by using a tanning bed, you may want to think twice.

Tanning Bed
Martin Diebel, Getty Images

We all know of the dangers that exposure to ultraviolet rays can have on our skin, but it turns out, there are bacterias and viruses that can be in the beds, including herpes, warts and impetigo.

For years now, people have been hearing how tanning beds can cause wrinkles and skin cancer and they are beginning to get the message, according to Dr. David Goldberg, director of the Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey.

"Now instead of going week after week, year after year, they'll go for a few sessions in the spring so that they're better prepped for the summer. But, skin infections like herpes, warts, impetigo and other staff-type infections can be lurking in these beds, all of which have to do with the cleanliness of the devices," Goldberg said.

While tanning salons have to be licensed and part of that is to have a certain cleanliness protocol, no one is inspecting these beds every day.

"What happens is you get into one of these boxes, it's warm, so you're sweating and there's some moisture. People think ultraviolet rays will kill bacteria, but they don't, so bacteria and viruses are growing. You're lying there and you can be exposed to all sorts of skin infections," Goldberg said.

For those who insist on visiting a tanning salon, there are ways to be protected.

"Make sure the place you are going is licensed, don't be shy about asking to see it. If it doesn't smell right or look right or if it doesn't look clean, run," Goldberg said. "If you don't think they're doing a good job, either don't go, or make sure you clean it right before you get on with an antibacterial wipe. They work very well."

According to statistics from the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 1 million people in the U.S. use tanning salons each day.  Thirty-five percent of adults, 59 percent of college students and 17 percent of teens have reported using a tanning bed at least once.



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