Can You Treat Psoriasis With Tanning Beds? | MyPsoriasisTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyPsoriasisTeam
Powered By

Can You Treat Psoriasis With Tanning Beds?

Medically reviewed by Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Victoria Menard
Posted on February 25, 2021

Phototherapy vs. Tanning Beds | Members on Tanning Beds | Risks | Support

Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that can cause itching, redness, scaly skin, and flaking, affects between 2 percent and 3 percent of the global population. Although there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are now more effective treatments than ever before — including phototherapy or light therapy. Phototherapy typically involves delivering regular doses of ultraviolet (UV) light to the skin under close medical supervision.

Unfortunately, not everyone with psoriasis has access to phototherapy facilities. As a result, some people try commercial tanning beds as an alternative to medically supervised phototherapy.

Anecdotal evidence suggests tanning beds may help psoriasis, but there are serious risks to using ultraviolet light — such as that emitted by tanning beds — without a doctor’s supervision. Ultimately, tanning beds cannot replace phototherapy as a treatment for psoriasis.

Phototherapy vs. Tanning Beds for Psoriasis

Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatment for some skin conditions, including psoriasis. Phototherapy is typically prescribed by a dermatologist and can include exposure to sunlight, medically supervised treatments with specialized ultraviolet B light (UVB), or ultraviolet A light combined with psoralen for PUVA therapy. Laser treatment is another type of phototherapy that uses an excimer laser to treat affected skin and improve psoriasis symptoms.

Some people with psoriasis choose to visit commercial tanning salons as an alternative to natural sun exposure or dermatologist-prescribed phototherapy. However, the National Psoriasis Foundation, American Academy of Dermatology, FDA, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all discourage the use of commercial tanning beds and sun lamps. Commercial tanning beds emit mostly UVA light, not UVB, which is primarily responsible for the benefits of light therapy in psoriasis. Narrowband UVB emits a very specific wavelength of light that is effective for psoriasis and causes less skin damage.

Additionally, treatment using commercial tanning devices cannot be safely monitored like dermatologist-prescribed phototherapy can.

During phototherapy, a medical professional carefully monitors the ratio of UVA and UVB rays being used and can change this ratio depending on the skin being treated. These rays can be applied directly to the area of the body affected by psoriasis. In contrast, a commercial tanning device generally covers the entire body. Phototherapy is also frequently used in conjunction with psoriasis medications, including Ilumya (tildrakizumab-asmn) and Skyrizi (risankizumab-rzaa), or as a substitute for medications if they have proven ineffective.

Although phototherapy may use ultraviolet rays to treat psoriasis, commercial tanning cannot replace this medically supervised treatment. The American Academy of Dermatologists has stated that indoor tanning devices should not be considered a substitute for supervised phototherapy in adults, adolescents, or children. The American Cancer Society and its nearly two dozen health partners have concluded that there is no medical reason to use tanning beds in the diagnosis or treatment of psoriasis or other diseases.

MyPsoriasisTeam Members Talk About Tanning Beds

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have discussed using commercial tanning as an accessible means of treating their psoriasis with light exposure. As one member captured in her post, some people acknowledge the risks associated with commercial tanning: “The tanning bed helps my psoriasis plus my joints. I understand the risks of skin cancer, and I choose to take that risk.”

Other members have discussed the psoriasis symptoms they feel commercial tanning has helped alleviate. “Doing better after three trips to the tanning bed,” wrote one member. “After just three 15-minute visits with the tanning bed, my sores are drying up fantastically!” Another member wrote that tanning beds “really help with the itching,” while another simply said they “feel so much better” after they leave a tanning session. One MyPsoriasisTeam member noted that tanning has only helped them a little in the past — it “just depends on the part of the body. It never helped with my scalp.”

These testimonials should be taken into consideration with the serious risks of tanning beds as treatment.

Risks of Using Tanning Beds for Psoriasis

Although commercial tanning may help some people with psoriasis, the bottom line is that the ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning beds is proven to cause skin cancer. Given the high risk of commercial tanning, in 2009, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer increased the classification of UV-emitting indoor tanning devices to the highest level of cancer risk: group 1, or carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans, which moved indoor tanning devices up to the same risk category as tobacco and asbestos.

Indoor tanning use can cause several types of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, using indoor tanning devices before age 35 increases a person’s melanoma risk by 59 percent, squamous cell carcinoma risk by 67 percent, and basal cell carcinoma risk by 29 percent. In many cases, skin cancers develop years after tanning bed use. Discuss the risks and benefits of sunlight for psoriasis with your dermatologist.

Find Your Community

Managing and living with psoriasis can be challenging. But you don’t have to go it alone. MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and their loved ones. Here, members come together to ask questions, offer advice and support, and share their lived experiences.

Light therapy for psoriasis is frequently discussed by MyPsoriasisTeam members. If you’ve tried phototherapy or another form of light therapy for psoriasis, share your experiences in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

Posted on February 25, 2021
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

Become a Subscriber

Get the latest articles about psoriasis sent to your inbox.

Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here
Victoria Menard is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here

Related Articles

For people living with moderate to severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), biologics can ...

Minimizing Injection Pain From Psoriasis Biologics

For people living with moderate to severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), biologics can ...
Are you frustrated by the relentless itching and irritation of scalp psoriasis? It can feel like ...

What To Look For in Scalp Psoriasis Ointments

Are you frustrated by the relentless itching and irritation of scalp psoriasis? It can feel like ...
When it comes to psoriasis, some people are so eager to find relief that they’re open to trying j...

Coconut Oil for Psoriasis: Is It Effective?

When it comes to psoriasis, some people are so eager to find relief that they’re open to trying j...
There are more treatment options for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) now than ever. But before each new...

8 Facts To Know About Psoriatic Arthritis Clinical Trials

There are more treatment options for psoriatic arthritis (PsA) now than ever. But before each new...
Fans of essential oils sometimes hail these products as cure-alls, which may be intriguing if you...

Essential Oils for Psoriasis: Are They Effective?

Fans of essential oils sometimes hail these products as cure-alls, which may be intriguing if you...
You can find a wide variety of home remedies for psoriasis. Some may help soothe inflammation, wh...

6 Home Remedies for Psoriasis: What Can Help Relieve Symptoms?

You can find a wide variety of home remedies for psoriasis. Some may help soothe inflammation, wh...

Recent Articles

Psoriasis can develop on any part of your body, including your feet. Plaques or lesions on the fe...

The Best Types of Socks for Psoriasis: Fabrics, Gel, and More

Psoriasis can develop on any part of your body, including your feet. Plaques or lesions on the fe...
Psoriasis seems to have no boundaries — it can affect anyone, regardless of their location, race,...

Psoriasis in Men: Severity, Infertility, and More

Psoriasis seems to have no boundaries — it can affect anyone, regardless of their location, race,...
Many people with psoriasis experiment with diets, such as cutting back on red meat and processed ...

7 Foods To Avoid When on Biologics for Psoriasis

Many people with psoriasis experiment with diets, such as cutting back on red meat and processed ...
“Has anyone done any travel overseas with a biologic?” a MyPsoriasisTeam member asked. “How did y...

6 Tips for Traveling With Biologics for Psoriasis

“Has anyone done any travel overseas with a biologic?” a MyPsoriasisTeam member asked. “How did y...
Ayurvedic medicine (also known as Ayurveda) is a traditional medicine system in India that uses a...

Ayurvedic Treatment for Psoriasis: Is It Effective?

Ayurvedic medicine (also known as Ayurveda) is a traditional medicine system in India that uses a...
Dipping your toes into an oatmeal bath may bring back childhood memories of itchy chickenpox or p...

Oatmeal Bath for Psoriasis: Can It Help or Hurt?

Dipping your toes into an oatmeal bath may bring back childhood memories of itchy chickenpox or p...
MyPsoriasisTeam My psoriasis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close