Tanning and acne
Some people believe that tanning beds and excessive sun exposure helps to clear acne. The American Academy of Dermatology, however, states that tanning beds have not been scientifically proven to decrease acne. Research also found that tanning increases your risk of the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma.
Tanning may appear to help acne
The relationship between tanning and acne has been widely studied, but is commonly misunderstood. While we all know that tanning is unsafe and unhealthy, many people believe that tanning is a magical cure for acne. Tanning may have short term effects on your skin that look like they are helping your acne. These effects, however, are only short term and will have far more negative effects than positive benefits.
- Tanning can reduce your acne for a short time because the UV ray exposure causes dry skin, which may reduce the oil that causes acne. However, after you tan, your body will compensate by producing too much oil, which causes even more acne outbreaks.
- Tanning may temporarily camouflage your acne by hiding the redness. However, the tanning only hides your acne for a short period of time and it does not actually heal it.
Tanning and acne medications
Tanning has detrimental effects if you are taking acne medications that cause photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is common in acne medications, and causes your skin to become ultra sensitive to the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays (i.e. sunlight and tanning beds). If you are tanning while taking acne medications, you become more susceptible to sunburns, premature aging, and skin cancer.
Acne medications that cause photosensitivity:
- Accutane (isotretinoin)
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Some oral contraceptives
- Some oral antibiotics, such as tetracycline and doxycycline
- Retin-A (tretinoin)
- Differin (adapalene)
- Tazorac (tazarotene)
- Many others.
Ask your dermatologist to find out if your acne medication causes photosensitivity.
Sunscreen and acne
It is important to always use oil-free sunscreen if you want to avoid acne outbreaks. Noncomedogenic sunscreens will not clog your pores or cause acne.
For Those with moderate to severe acne
Tanning may be able to hide your acne temporarily, but it won’t actually treat and heal your breakouts. If you have moderate to severe acne, it is important that you apply more effective medications, like topical retinoids.
Fortunately, topical retinoids are not hard to obtain. All you need is to do is consult with a dermatologist, who will write you a prescription for the medication. If you don’t already have a dermatologist, or if you want a more convenient way to get consultations, take a look at our online dermatology service (only available in California).