Skin burns, lacerations, and eye injuries so bad they result in trips to the ER: Such are the perils posed by indoor tanning beds, according to a new CDC study released yesterday. The findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, are described as "the first national estimates of indoor tanning–related injuries treated in US hospital emergency departments." That estimate places those ER-worthy injuries at an average of 3,234 per year. As the Washington Post puts it, "that's nearly nine skin burns, fainting spells, eye injuries, lacerations, strains, sprains, bruises, or dislocations every day that could have been avoided." And the true number is likely much higher, since the research excluded those injuries that were dealt with by private physicians, urgent care centers, or at home.
Skin burns account for roughly 80% of the injuries; the majority of those who sustain any type of injury are women (82.2%) and between 18 and 34 (62.4%). The one encouraging figure: the injuries nosedived during the 2003-to-2012 period that was studied: from 6,487 at the start to 1,957 in 2012, reports USA Today. Researcher Gery P. Guy suspects the decline is tied to the declining use of tanning beds. Still, he notes these injuries could lead to bigger issues down the line, as skin and eye burns up the risk for skin cancer and eye melanoma, respectively. A tanning industry rep points out that 1 million people tan indoors daily, meaning the injury rate is incredibly tiny.