WESTWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — If you’re thinking about hitting a tanning bed to get a head start on your summer tan, you might want to think again.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, doctors say bacteria and viruses can lurk inside those beds – including the dreaded herpes virus.
Dermatologist Dr. David Goldberg, of the Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey is among those who say you could be getting more than a just nice glow the next time you get into a tanning bed.
“You just need one person going in there who has an active herpes infection, and they’re lying on the table and some of that virus gets on the table — again, the ultraviolet is not killing the virus,” Goldberg said. “And then if you’re the unlucky next person lying on the table, and that table hasn’t been cleaned enough, there’s no question you can get that virus.”
Despite sanitation regulations, Dr. Goldberg said tanning beds could even be a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses like herpes, if they’re not properly disinfected.
“People come in there; they sweat, and the sweating causes the bacteria and viruses to grow,” he said. “The heat itself from the lamps can cause those bacteria and viruses to grow.”
Other infections are also a possibility, Goldberg said.
“Staph infections; impetigo can occur; warts,” he said.
Goldberg said customers need to be protecting themselves when visiting a tanning salon.
“Be careful,” he said. “Make sure the place is clean. Ask for the certificate of licensure. If you’re not sure, leave, and don’t hesitate to file a complaint with the state.”
Customer Mary Centrella said she now plans to wipe down the tanning bed herself.
“Sometimes they do have paper towels in there. Sometimes they do have the cleaning spray, so if I want to make sure that it’s, like, clean, then I go and do that” she said.
Doctors said the best way to avoid getting an infection from a tanning salon is to not visit one at all.