White Spots from Tanning

Jodie Michalak
Tanning booths may cause white spots.

Are you concerned about white spots from tanning beds? The occurrence of white spots on the skin after frequenting a tanning booth is a common, if not confusing symptom which may have a multitude of causes.

Common Causes of White Spots from Tanning Beds

Research has uncovered several reasons why people who frequent tanning beds may begin to experience white spotting on their skin. Although the underlying causes have conflicting theories, the following scenarios may be the reason many experience white spots from tanning.

Fungus

Tanning beds are a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Although states have mandatory sanitation procedures for tanning booths, whether or not they are implemented correctly or consistently may vary from establishment to establishment.

The most popular rumored cause of white spots is attributed to a skin fungus. It's well known that body fungus can be transmitted from person to person once the body has been exposed to an infected surface. In the case of tanning beds, fungus has everything it needs to thrive: sweat, moisture, and a humid environment. Once the tanning lights are off, a fungus can begin to grow and thrive in its darkened environment. Researchers have claimed that certain fungi may live on the skin indefinitely, disabling the skin's ability to tan wherever the fungus is present. Although the fungus claim is just a theory, it's one that has many people leery of frequenting these bacteria breeding grounds for a faux tan.

If you feel you've contracted a skin fungus, it's recommended you visit a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Genetic

Another widespread belief is that white spots are linked to genetic properties. Once the skin has been exposed numerous times to UV rays, whether from the sun or a tanning booth, it may begin to develop an immunity to the sun's rays due to the genetic lack of melanin in the skin cells.

Skin Sensitivity

Skin sensitivity is yet another theorized cause of white spots. Certain medications may increase the sensitivity of the skin and the skin's natural reaction to UV light. Birth control pills are one of the most popular medications that increase skin sensitivity. Before requesting or filling a doctor prescribed medication, speak with your physician or pharmacist about the side effects of sun or UV exposure while on the medication.

Scars

The simplest cause of white spots while tanning is scar tissue. Scarred skin does not have melanin so you will never be able to tan a scarred surface. Insect bites, small cuts and scars caused by surgical procedures will remain white if the skin has been permanently scarred.

What to Do About White Spots

Fortunately, white spots are often a harmless occurrence which are more irritating than serious in nature.

If you're bothered by the white spots that may be present after tanning, there's a few things you can do to reduce their appearance:

  • Bronzers: Applying bronzers directly on the white spots may help disguise them temporarily.
  • Self Tanning Creams: Applying a faux, self tanning cream to the body will help even out your skin tone and hide any skin abnormalities, especially useful when covering up white spots or tan lines.
  • Airbrush Tanning: For those seeking a bronzed glow without tricky self tanning products or the risk of UV exposure, an airbrushed tanning booth may be the best option. Airbrush or spray tanning booths ensure even application of self tanner and will help to cover up white spots.

Risks of Tanning

There are many risks associated with tanning booths. Besides the common side effect of white spots, tanning booths carry an increased risk of skin cancer from their direct and intense UV exposure.

If you're experiencing white spots on your skin, it may be time to consider the increased risks of skin disease even though white spots themselves are otherwise harmless.

With increased advancement in self tanning and bronzing products, a faux tan can be just as attractive, while carrying zero risk for life threatening, if not unsightly, side effects.

White Spots from Tanning