Adolescent tanning practices: Understanding the popularity of excessive ultraviolet light exposure

Thomas J. Jasterzbski, Edmund J. Janniger, Robert Schwartz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The sun and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such as tanning beds, are major contributors to the development of premature cutaneous aging and skin cancer. The popularity of tanning salons and the limited use of sun protection have caused a dramatic increase in skin cancer, especially among adolescents. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma have all been linked to UV exposure. SCC is correlated with total lifetime UV damage and prolonged occupational exposure, whereas BCC and melanoma are associated with intermittent and recreational exposure. Although the carcinogenic properties of UVA and UVB are not proportional, both forms of UV radiation have proven to be carcinogenic. The indoor tanning industry has become a multibilliondollar-a-year business and is widely popular among adolescents, especially teenage females. Because the effects of UV exposure are cumulative and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to UV damage, the widespread use of indoor tanning facilities by adolescents is a major public health problem. This trend is complex and influenced by multiple variables; however, the majority of teens tan to gain an “attractive” appearance. Although many policies have been enacted to regulate indoor tanning, stricter legislation and policy enforcement are needed. Natural tanning has also had a significant impact on the rising prevalence of skin cancer. Research has shown that suntanning without appropriate protection, such as sunscreen, is also common among adolescents. Some studies even indicate that the actual process of tanning can be addictive. Because tanning practices are strongly associated with the rising incidence of skin cancer, limiting adolescent tanning behavior should be a major public health focus. A comprehensive approach, including stricter tanning salon legislation, parental guidance, patient education, and educational campaigns at the primary and secondary school level might be effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPractical Pediatric Dermatology
Subtitle of host publicationControversies in Diagnosis and Treatment
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9783319321592
ISBN (Print)9783319321578
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


  • Indoor tanning legislation
  • Skin cancer
  • Tanning bed use in youth
  • Tanning practices in adolescents
  • Ultraviolet radiation

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    Jasterzbski, T. J., Janniger, E. J., & Schwartz, R. (2016). Adolescent tanning practices: Understanding the popularity of excessive ultraviolet light exposure. In Practical Pediatric Dermatology: Controversies in Diagnosis and Treatment (pp. 177-185). Springer International Publishing.