Archive for Monday, June 3, 2002

Lawrence physician no fan of tanning

June 3, 2002


Lee Bittenbender only recommends the kind of tan that comes out of a tube.

"A tanned skin is a damaged skin," said Bittenbender, dermatologist at Dermatology Center of Lawrence. "There's just not a safe way to tan."

Bittenbender said he commonly sees patients concerned about aging or pre-cancerous changes in their skin  both of which are caused by overexposure to the sun.

"I talk to people about tanning and sun exposure on a daily basis," he said. "Tanning, whether naturally or in a booth, is just not healthy. It's an expensive way to do something bad to your skin."

But children and teens don't seem too concerned  at least while the effects of sun damage are in the future.

Katie Brown, 14, Linwood, said she used tanning lotion, not sunscreen, on her skin.

Her friend Annie Kohlmeyer, 14, Linwood, said she was aware of the damages of the sun, but she applies sunscreen only on her face.

"I just want to get a tan," said Kohlmeyer, soaking up the rays near the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center.

Although she said she hadn't been tanning long Sunday, her cheeks were already turning a deeper shade of pink.

Evan Williams, Lawrence, said she tried to regulate the sun exposure of her three children.

"The kids have to wear sunscreen, and we try not to go to the pool during the middle of the day," she said.

Bittenbender said anything beyond 20 to 30 minutes in the mid-day without sunscreen was harmful. He recommends sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 or 30.

"That is assuming they put it on properly," he said. "People need to put on more than they think. Most people only put on about a third of what they need. To cover the body you need at least one ounce."

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