Tanning Beds, Drug Skin Reactions Can be a Deadly Combo

While known for its dangers concerning skin cancer, tanning beds are now being linked to a completely different type of danger. Research conducted by the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Dermatology has found that tanning bed exposure, specifically when consumers self-diagnose and use the radiation to treat skin eruptions, can have dangerous outcomes. Specifically, a tanning bed user who attempted to treat a mild skin rash caused by an ibuprofen allergy developed a much more severe reaction called <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/toxic_epidermal_necrolysis">toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal.

Jeffrey B. Travers, M.D., Ph.D, a professor of dermatology and of pharmacology and toxicology at the IU School of Medicine, said people should be exercising caution when using a tanning bed and when an undiagnosed skin condition is present.

“There are many reasons to be cautious of tanning bed radiation but some people use tanning beds to ‘self-treat’ skin eruptions,” Dr. Travers, senior author of the Archives of Dermatology study, said in a press release announcing its findings. “If the skin eruption is eczema or even psoriasis, a tanning bed might help. However, if the eruption is caused by a drug reaction then it can be dangerous.”

Following tanning bed exposure, the patient in the study developed TEN with severe blistering on the skin that received the UV ligh. Ultimately, the rash spread, and the patient suffered a significant blood pressure drop.

The IU School of Medicine explained that TEN can be a life-threatening skin disorder that can attack the skin and other tissues causing hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, vision abnormalities, and digestive track complications. “The mortality rate of this most serious reaction is more than 20 percent by causing multi-system organ failure,” said Dr. Travers.

In this case, elevated levels of a protein responsible for inflammation were found in the patient’s skin. The researchers used laboratory studies to show that when normal skin cells are exposed to this protein and the type of UV radiation used in tanning beds, a large amount of the protein responsible for inflammation and cell death is produced. IU School of Medicine concluded that the studies prove that patients with rashes caused by allergic reactions to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory or prescription drugs can undergo significant adverse reactions following exposure to tanning bed radiation.

The team pointed out that a recent random study of 1,200 individuals found that about 10 percent of those who went to tanning salons went to self-treat skin disease and that five percent of these people were following physician advice, said the IU School of Medicine. “There is an increasing trend for patients to seek tanning bed radiation exposure as a means of self-treatment because, among much of the general public, the perceived benefits of tanning bed radiation include its ability to treat rashes,” the study noted.

Meanwhile, we have been following reports surrounding the many dangers linked to the use of tanning beds and recently wrote that those who regularly tan on these devices may be doubling, even tripling, their risks of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Melanoma, said CNN previously, is so fatal because of its ability to “invade deep into tissues and spread to other parts of the body,” not always the case in other skin cancers.

We have also written that, according to the American Journal of Dermatology, more than 30 million people tan indoors annually; LifeScience.com announced that based on a 2010 study, some tanning habits are considered an addiction.

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