Are Tanning Injections Safe?
Tanning injections appear to be the latest and greatest way to get a sun tan all your friends will envy. After all, while we all would love to get a nice healthy-looking tan, in many cases we either tan very little, or simply burn and peel.
Sunshine Was Once The Only Way - It used to be that the only way one could get a tan would be to live in a place where there was lots of warm weather, beach weather if you will, and sunshine. If not, the only way to get a tan would be to travel to such a place, which of course is what all of our friends did, leaving the rest of us behind, skinny and pale.
Then Came The Sun Lamp - Then someone came across the idea of the sun lamp. You could sit in a chair, turn on the sun lamp, listened to some music, and walk around the next day with a beet-red face. The sun lamp eventually gave way to the tanning bed and tanning salons, where someone would presumably be watching the timer to make certain you didn't become overdone.
As we've come to find out, getting a natural suntan isn't as healthy as we once thought. While we need sunshine, too much of it can cause anything from premature wrinkles to skin cancer, not to mention the occasional sunburn. Sunlamps weren’t too much safer, in the sense that many either sat to closely in front of one, or for too long. Tanning beds on the other hand are supposedly supervised, or have timers you can hear, if you haven't fallen asleep.
Then Came The Instant Tanning Lotions - In short, no matter how we went about getting a deep, rich tan, there always seemed to be some danger involved, and that danger usually centered around what UV rays can do to the skin. The danger seemingly was avoided with the advent of instant tanning lotions, which actually tanned your skin without any help of the sun. These tanning lotions, which are still quite popular, seem to work well, but unfortunately they don't perform the same for everyone. You may get a nice bronze tan, or you may get a tan with more that a little orange coloring in it. You also need to apply it carefully over the area you want tanned, because missed spots, or sharp edges, are quite noticeable. If you wear a white dress shirt, you sometimes will get yellow around the edge of the collar. If you don't know what you're doing, you're apt to go to work the next day with the palms of your hands nicely tanned, but the rest of your hands as pale as ever. Also, if you leave work Tuesday afternoon and return Wednesday morning with a deep tan, everyone will know it's a fake.
Now We Have Tanning By Injection - Now we have the newest way to get a tan, made possible by tanning injections. Tanning injections appear to work, at least in most cases, but are they safe? What these injections do seems simple enough. You're injected with a hormone, either Melanotan I or Melanotan II. These hormones either stimulate melanin production, or mimic the stimulation. Melanin is a pigment that determines the color of our skin. The more melanin that is produced, the darker our skin will become. If the production of melanin is increased, or the process is somehow mimicked, the skin should darken, which is usually the case when undergoing these injections.
Stimulating or mimicking melanin production wouldn't seem like it should involve too much risk, since we're taking about a pigment. The question is, what does melanotan consist of, and what if anything might it do in our body besides increasing or mimicking melanin production? One of the concerns is that anytime a number of people are relying on injections for any purpose, and these injections are being given by those who may not be medical practitioners, problems can arise, infection being but one example.
These injections have at times produced side effects of one type or another, and several deaths that have been reported may possibly be the result of these injections, although it's possible the melanotan itself may have only been a secondary contributor, or the deaths were simply a coincidence.
We Don't Yet Know The Long Term Consequences - A very valid concern however is that no one knows for sure what the long term consequences of tanning injections might be. Is the practice of artificially stimulating the cells that produce melanin harmful in the long run? Are cells other than those that produce melanin being stimulated as well, and if so, what might the long term consequences be? It hasn't been proven that tanning injections should definitely be avoided, although there have been a few scare stories indicating they should be. It does seem however that those who take these injections, whether it is occasionally or frequently, may be rolling the dice.
There's one other consequence of getting a “false” tan worth noting. Such a tan doesn’t give all that much added protection from the sun's rays, or at least not as much as most tend to believe. Sunblock or sunscreen protection is still needed to prevent damage to the skin.