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Tanning beds are still immensely popular. If you cannot go to the beach, you may simply want to go to a tanning bed to get that fabulous tan. However, many time, apart from the tan, you may end up getting something else too. It is those horrible red bumps all over your body.

Commonly known as welts, these red bumps are more frequent in those areas of the body that are exposed to the ultraviolet rays emitted from the tanning bed for a longer duration of time. These areas include the stomach, back, chest and the limbs.

The welts look like small red blisters and may erupt either immediately after using the tanning bed or after some days. Although rarely painful, these welts can be a big nuisance as they are extremely itchy and cosmetically undesirable.

Factors behind welt formation after tanning

Let us look at some of the causes that may lead to formation of welts on the body after using a tanning bed.

  • Some people may be allergic to the tanning lotion used before getting into the tanning bed.
  • Development of welts is more common in light skinned people. This is because melanin, a pigment present in skin to provide protection against the harmful ultraviolet rays, is deficient in light skinned people. So their skin is more prone to be damaged by the UV rays released from the tanning lamp.
  • Some people are more photosensitive as compared to others and are more likely to develop welts.
  • Over-zealous people trying to get a tan in a short span of time may use photosensitizers. However, by doing so, they predispose themselves to welts.
  • Certain medications can also trigger bad rashes during tanning. These medicines include some tranquilizers, sulfur containing medicines, and medicines used in the treatment of diabetes and hypertension.
  • Cleaners used on tanning beds may also trigger welts.
  • Overdose of UV-A rays during tanning is one of the most common causes of welts.

Prevention of welts

One can prevent the development of tan bed rashes by following these simple steps:

  • Go for tanning on alternate days and keep the initial sessions short. Gradually increase the duration of exposure to tanning light.
  • In case of development of rashes, stop tanning for the time the rashes are there and then resume tanning at a lower level.
  • Reduce the amount of exposure to UV-A rays.
  • Use copious amounts of moisturizer after tanning, to prevent drying of skin.
  • Opt for tanning lotions which do not contain chemical additives.
  • Go to a tanning salon which has air coolers to keep the temperature of the room in check.
  • Wipe off the tanning bed thoroughly before getting into it.
  • Consult your doctor beforehand in case you are on some regular medication.
  • Get a spray tan instead.

Treatment of welts

Most people who use tanning beds regularly develop immunity against tan rashes after a period of time. Welts developed due to tanning are bothersome but often easy to treat. The following steps can be employed to treat welts:

  • All tanning activity should be suspended during the duration of outbreak of welts. This is important to give the skin adequate time to heal. Persisting with tanning, in the presence of tan rashes, would result in the spread of rashes all over the body.
  • Clean the affected area with lukewarm water and pat it dry. Using hot water can aggravate the dryness of skin and irritate the rashes further.
  • A mild antibiotic ointment can be used for topical application to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Applying Calamine lotion at the site of rash or taking an antihistamine would provide relief from the persistent itching.
  • In case the welts persist for more than a week, consult a dermatologist.

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