Are you Tanning to Death Tanning Kills too much Sun

Death by sun is not something I fully understand. I conceptualize skin cancer, but it’s still just a word. I suppose I’m like everyone else. If I don’t feel the immediate consequences I have nothing to fear. I’ve been burned so many times I’ve lost count. But that still doesn’t stop me. And even when I did meet someone completely covered in textiles from head to toe to help shade himself from the rays of the sun, the severity of skin cancer never set in. Afterall, in spite of the fact he could no longer expose himself to the sun he was still alive and that had to count for something, right? Still, I can’t help but wonder, 24 years later after my first really bad burn, will I too one day have to dress completely covered in textiles? Will I too, one day, have to prevent coming in contact with the sun?

I was 12 when I first learned the secret to a deep dark tan. Vinegar, water, and iodine. For the next seven years I used this secret and successfully tanned. Yet I seldom stayed long in the sun as the boredom of lying still was more than I could endure. Besides, this was at a time when the words skin, sun and cancer were becoming more synonymous. Yet all that changed in the blink of an eye when I caught the attention of a young handsome man who wanted to take me out Friday night.

To prepare for our date I decided to spend the day working on my tan. I arrived to the beach at ten o’clock in the morning. Yet I was still quite tired and quickly fell asleep. I don’t know what time it was when I first woke up and turned over but it was half past five when I finally woke up the second time and decided I’d better get home. Even as I walked I knew I was badly burned. Not a good sign. Even I knew if you could feel the burn before you get home to have a shower, you were probably pretty badly burned.

And I was. I had second degree burns. Bright red blotchy blisters invaded my painfully hot red skin as fluid seeped through the damaged skin. The heat from the burn threatened to incinerate me. I felt like I was being cooked alive. I took five cold baking soda baths and a few cold showers in between to help keep the temperature down. I didn’t realize the severity of the burns or else I would have gone to the hospital. I suppose it was my mother’s initial laughter that kept me at home. Still, I probably should have gone.

To make matters worse, my date called and canceled. Something else had come up. Did I mind? No. Of course not. Nor did I bother to tell him about my burn. To make matters worse, I never heard from him again.

I’m thankful the blisters never got infected and that it only took a couple weeks for the burn to subside. And I’m happy to say I no longer tan with Vinegar, water, and iodine. I no longer tan alone and I no longer fall asleep in the sun. I use a tanning lotion with an SPF of ten on my body and another with an SPF of 30 for my face. I also try to limit the amount of exposure I receive from the sun. Yet the fact remains, I continue to tan.

Skin cancer doesn’t happen right away. It takes years to develop. And the fact remains the effects of that one bad burn 24 years ago may still come back to haunt me some day in the near future. Until then I consider myself lucky. And regardless of whether it’s right or wrong or what the risks might involve, it all comes down to one painful reality – I still feel healthier and sexier wearing a tan.