Indoor tanning is a time-saver when you're too busy to lounge in the sun. Unfortunately, it can also cause uncomfortably itchy skin. This typically happens when you're new to tanning. After your first few tans, your skin itches as it adjusts to the UV light. Taking action before and after tanning will help minimize itchiness and soothe your skin.
Even if you finished your first tanning session without a problem, you might start feeling itchy sometime between your third and fifth tans. The amount of time spent tanning also affects how itchy you feel. To avoid severe skin irritation, you should tan no more frequently than every other day. If you get a rash from tanning, do not tan at all for several days until the rash goes away. After that, you can resume tanning at a lower level.
Before tanning, always apply a moisturizing tanning lotion to protect your skin from the drying effects of UV light. Moisturizers can also help soothe itchy skin after tanning. According to MayoClinic.com, you should choose an oil-based or petroleum-based moisturizer. Look for products that contain ingredients such as dimethicone and grape seed oil.
Aloe vera gel is a natural product that eases itchiness, burns and other skin irritations. You can purchase aloe vera gel from most pharmacies and grocery stores.
Showering, Cosmetics and Pain Relief
A lukewarm or cool shower works well for soothing itchy skin. Certain chemicals in soaps, shampoos and cleansers may make itching worse, however. Artificial fragrances, such as those found in many bath products, can cause skin irritation. You may also want to avoid spraying perfume or cologne on your skin after tanning.
According to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, help relieve itchy skin. For pain, try a drug containing acetaminophen. These drugs may interact with other medications. Ask your doctor if these drugs are safe for you before taking them.
Other Causes of Itching
Certain drugs, such as antibiotics, may make your skin more sensitive to UV light. If you're taking any drugs, talk with your doctor about the side effects before you tan. Usually, the itchiness should go away after two to three weeks of tanning. If it doesn't, you might be allergic to the cleansers used to sanitize the tanning beds. Ask an employee at your tanning salon about the cleansers they use. If you're allergic, have employees clean your bed with a different sanitizing product.
- Florida Agency for Health Care Administration: How to Treat a Sunburn
- Wolff System: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
- KidsHealth: Is Tanning Making Me Itch?
- MayoClinic.com: Moisturizers
- AAP News: Ban the Tan: Using Tanning Beds Can Harm Your Skin, Eyes
- National Tanning Training Institute: Training for the Professional Operation of Indoor Tanning Salons (PDF)
- NetWellness: Safe Tanning -- Is it Possible?
Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.