Tanning During Chemotherapy

The Safest Way to Get That Bronzed Look During Chemotherapy

tanning bed
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Are you a cancer patient who has wondered if you should go tanning during chemotherapy? After all, tanning salons are a popular way of getting a quick, "sunkissed" look. Keep reading to find out.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer can start any place in the body. It starts when cells grow out of control and crowd out normal cells. This makes it hard for the body to work the way it should and causes problems in the part of the body where the cancer started.

Cancer cells can also spread to other parts of the body. For instance, cancer cells in the lung can travel to the bones and grow there. When cancer cells spread, it’s called metastasis. When lung cancer spreads to the bones, it’s still called lung cancer. To doctors, the cancer cells in the bones look just like the ones from the lung. It’s not called bone cancer unless it started in the bones.

Some cancers grow and spread fast. Others grow more slowly. They also respond to treatment in different ways. Some types of cancer are best treated with surgery; others respond better to drugs called chemotherapy. Often two or more treatments are used to get the best results.

When someone has cancer, the doctor will want to find out what kind of cancer it is. People with cancer need treatment that works for their type of cancer.

What Is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease.

But to most people, the word chemotherapy means drugs used for cancer treatment. It’s often shortened to “chemo.”

Surgery and radiation therapy remove, kill, or damage cancer cells in a certain area, but chemo can work throughout the whole body. This means chemo can kill cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) to parts of the body far away from the original (primary) tumor.

Tanning During Chemotherapy

Tanning is not considered to be safe for people who are undergoing chemotherapy. Side effects of chemotherapy can include dry skin, irritation, and sensitivity to sun exposure. While you may not notice any outward signs of skin problems caused by chemotherapy now, tanning may cause you to experience these effects because of your hypersensitivity to both natural and artificial sunlight. If do choose to continue to tan, despite the risks involved with tanning, it is best to wait until after you have finished chemotherapy.

In the meantime, you can do many things to get that bronzed look. Bronzing powders and creams are both safe to use, unless you are experiencing skin irritation. Spray/airbrush tans are an option for most, but be sure to check with your doctor beforehand. The chemicals in a spray tan may be too harsh in people whose chemotherapy drugs are known to cause skin irritation.

Remember to always use a sunscreen when going outdoors. Most cosmetics, like foundations for the face, contain a sunscreen.

Remember to apply sunscreen to parts of the body that are not covered, like the hands, ears, and back of the neck. If you have lost your hair to chemotherapy and do not wear a head covering, be sure to apply sunscreen on your head as well.

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