Vacation season is upon us and before hitting the beach or the lake, many people hit the tanning salon hoping to get a glowing base tan; however, dermatologists warn, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.
Just last year, Ashlee Miller-Eye learned the hard way the dangers of tanning in her teenage years.
“I was 36-weeks pregnant when I went in for a regular doctor’s appointment at my OB’s office. I was with my mom, my husband had to work,” Miller-Eye said.
She stood up for a brief moment while waiting for the doctor to come and her mom noticed something black on her. Miller-Eye thought it was just a piece of lint and went to wipe it off. When nothing came off, her mom said, “I think it’s a mole.”
Miller-Eye who works for Allison Triplitt, a dermatologist, knew exactly what to do next.
“I said, ‘Make sure you take a picture of it, I need to show it to Dr. Triplitt right away,'” Miller-Eye said.
Allison Triplitt, M.D., of McKay-Dee Dermatology, said, “Given that it hadn’t been there probably for very long, we biopsied it and it came back as melanoma.” The most deadly type of skin cancer.
It’s a scary diagnosis, but if caught early, it’s curable.
“I think the fact that I work here made it easier to swallow, but the fact that I was pregnant made it hard too because I was super emotional, so of course I cried when I found out,” Miller-Eye said.
Triplitt removed the cancer, and now Miller-Eye goes in for regular checkups.
“I compare all her moles and look for what we call the ugly duckling, the mole that stands out,” Triplitt said.
The five-year-survival rate for melanoma caught in its early stages is over 98 percent. But the key Triplitt said is preserving and protecting your skin at all times.
“We do know that melanoma is really closely tied to bad sunburns, particularly in our young years, our kids years … It’s that one time that you got really burned at Bear Lake or where ever you may be,” Triplitt said.
Melanoma is also tied to tanning bed use.
“We know that with each tanning incidence as we say or every time you go to the tanning bed that risk increases,” Triplitt said.
Miller-Eye actually worked at a tanning salon in her teens.
“I was that girl that would promote tanning, say tanning is so good for you. It makes you feel good. I tanned every single day and I would rotate through all the beds,” she said.
A tan is actually an injury to the skin. But many people think getting a base tan will protect them from a sunburn and skin cancer.
“It actually doesn’t afford much protection at all, and the best way to protect your skin is really to prevent tanning and burning,” Triplitt said.
A 2013 study actually discovered people who used tanning beds before vacationing were actually more likely to get a sunburn. The study concluded that tanned people believe they don’t need sunscreen.
In actuality, a pre-tan is like wearing an SPF of 4, so it’s very little protection against the sun.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or higher. “The real trick to sunscreen is using enough of it, so about 1 ounce, which is equivalent to about a golf ball-size of sunscreen, ” Triplitt said.
Miller-Eye suggested using spray tans or gradual tanning lotions. “Just be happy with the skin that you’re in,” she said.
Triplitt reminded everyone that early detection of skin cancer is the key and can save a life. It is important to see a dermatologist if you notice any new dark spot or sore that won’t heal, or moles that are changing, itching or hurting.