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Why Do I Feel Sick After Indoor Tanning?

Updated on December 26, 2016

Many people say that after indoor tanning they feel nauseous, dizzy and have a headache. There are various reasons why you might suffer these symptoms after spending time in the tanning bed, under those lamps emitting UV rays that mimic the sun. In fact, you can consider exposure to the rays coming from those lights pretty much the same as if you had spent time lying out in the sun; both emit UV rays.

Therefore, precautions are similar for both exposure to the sun and using tanning beds.

Sunstroke or Heat Exhaustion

Just like if you spent too much time out in the sun and got too hot, if you spend too much time under hot lamps you can end up with heat stroke or heat exhaustion; meaning, you can get too hot. The symptoms for heat exhaustion are, in fact, headache, nausea and dizziness.

You might want to consult staff at the salon to find out how hot the lights are and if they have decent air conditioning and ventilation at the salon. Of course, you might consider spending less time on the tanning bed. Generally, 20 minutes is long enough but you might want to start off with much shorter periods of tanning under the lights. The beds themselves have FDA recommended exposure times printed on them. It might be wise to check these.

Also, you might want to consider the frequency of your tanning. Generally, you don't need to do it more than once a week. It can take time to get a tan, but it's better to be patient than to risk health.

Finally, you will want to consider your skin type. Lighter skinned people are at greater risk when it comes to being exposed to UV rays. Of course, they burn easier. The darker the skin, the less the risk.

Tan skin looks good and healthy but you might want to take precautions before prolonged skin exposure to UV rays.
Tan skin looks good and healthy but you might want to take precautions before prolonged skin exposure to UV rays.

Medications and Medical Conditions that Make You Sensitive to Light

Certain medications will make you more sensitive to light and could make you sick when you are tanning. Birth control, acne medications and antihistamines all can make you sensitive to light and, if you are taking them, might be making you sick when you tan.

Also, certain medical conditions make you more sensitive to light. One of the symptoms of Lupus is oversensitivity to light, so you might want to consider this if you have Lupus and want to use a tanning salon. Also, Diabetes and Herpes can make you sensitive to light. People with low blood sugar, too, could find themselves feeling faint if exposed to the heat of the lamps for prolonged periods. In addition, pregnancy can make you oversensitive to light and you don't want to get overheated when pregnant, so this is another consideration when tanning.

Of course, it is wise to check with a doctor before you use a tanning bed to take into consideration any relevant medical issues.

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It is wise before and after tanning that you make sure you are hydrated by drinking plenty of water, which is a good idea, generally, anyway. This, of course, will prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion so that you are not sick after tanning. It's a good idea to use moisturizers to replenish the fluid in your skin too. Also, you just don't want to overdo it and stay under the lights too long and it is a good idea to follow the guidelines of exposure times that are provided at the salon; you might want to reduce the time you spend on the tanning bed if you are having issues after tanning. You also might want to do it less frequently.

Of course, you would be smart to talk to your doctor and discuss any medical issues that might affect how you feel when exposed to UV rays; like the medications you take that might make you hyper-sensitive to light or if you have a condition that makes you sensitive to UV rays.

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