Are Tanning Beds A Safe Solution For Psoriasis?

By Georgia Gould
Apr 09, 2024

After Kim Kardashian recently explained how she uses a tanning bed to help treat her psoriasis we felt we had to weigh in….

Affecting over 125 million people worldwide and around 8 million in the US alone (1) the causes of this inflammatory, immune-related disease are continuing to become better understood. There are multiple effective therapies that are available. It can affect not just your skin, but your joints and organs, too, which makes being diagnosed with psoriasis no laughing matter. 

When a star like Kim Kardashian therefore takes to social media to talk about how she uses her very own tanning bed to help treat her psoriasis, people sit up and take notice. Because as influencers go, Kim is kind of a big deal.

How The Controversy Started

The Keeping Up With The Kardashians megastar first took to TikTok when she jumped on the ‘Of course…’ trend to tout all the highly ridiculous things she has around her luxurious office. 

‘I’m Kim Kardashian. Of course, I have all my magazine covers covering my walls,’ the video begins, followed swiftly by the reality star showing off her personal mannequin and a 3D model of her brain. Crazy stuff, for sure, but no harm done, right?

Until she’s seen in a toweling robe, that is… ‘I’m Kim Kardashian. Of course, I have a tanning bed.’

Gasp.

As we’re sure you’re aware, tanning booths are seriously bad news for the skin. And your health. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) there is no such thing as safe tanning – either indoors or out. 

“Indoor tanning can increase the risk of developing the two most common types of skin cancer,” experts explain.

“Squamous cell carcinoma increases by 58% and basal cell carcinoma by 24%. Using tanning beds before the age of 20 can also increase your chances of developing melanoma by 47%. And this risk increases with every use.”

As we said, bad news.

The Story Thickens…

What’s even more astonishing is the fact that Kim’s very own sister, Khloe Kardashian,  battled with melanoma, having had a tumor removed from her face back in 2022 (2). It was no surprise, therefore, that Kim’s video received a huge amount of backlash across the social media community with everyone from Allure magazine to top dermatologists weighing in to ask why on earth she condones using a tanning bed.

And Kim’s response didn’t help.

“I have psoriasis,” she wrote on X. “And it really helps when it’s bad. But I don’t use it too often.”


The Truth About Tanning Beds & Psoriasis

Don’t get us wrong, it’s always reassuring to hear that celebrities aren’t always the superhuman creatures we make them out to be. They use the bathroom, they have bad hair days, and some of them even struggle with chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. So thanks, Kim, who was diagnosed in 2011, for letting us know that you are indeed human, just like the rest of us. 

But should she really be using a tanning bed to treat her psoriasis? And should the rest of the psoriasis community heed Kim’s advice?

“Ultraviolet light can be effective for psoriasis, but the type of ultraviolet light tanning beds emit increases the risk for skin cancer. This means they’re certainly not considered safe for psoriasis. Instead, it’s better for patients with psoriasis to discuss the best treatment with their dermatologist,” explains James A. Yiannias, M.D., Mayo Clinic.

“The National Psoriasis Foundation is also highly regarded and has a very helpful website that describes recommended treatment options,” he adds.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (3), the reason indoor tanning is thought to be beneficial for the symptoms of psoriasis is because tanning beds are often confused with photo or UV light therapy.

What Is Phototherapy?

Photo or ultraviolet light therapy is a tried and tested treatment used by highly qualified physicians that harnesses very specific wavelengths of UVB light to safely treat the symptoms of psoriasis. It works by slowing down the formation of new skin cells, reducing inflammation, and encouraging healing (4), and it can be a very effective way to deal with this lifelong disease.

The light used in phototherapy treatments, however, is completely different from the dangerous UVA rays emitted by tanning beds. Light exposure might (with a massive stress on the word ‘might’) help temporarily relieve flare-ups, but UVA rays are not an optimal way to manage psoriasis. At all. Instead, UVA damages the skin, causes sunburn, and increases your risk of skin cancer.

Many patients may see an improvement in their skin during the summer months, but natural sunlight contains both UVA and UVB rays which is the reason for this. And it’s still vital to practice safety in the sun by wearing protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and a high factor sunscreen at all times. Psoriasis or no psoriasis.

So, What Are The Best Ways To Safely Treat Psoriasis?

The truth is, you definitely do NOT need to install a tanning booth in your home to effectively deal with psoriasis. In fact, we strongly advise against it when there are so many safer and clinically proven treatments to help manage the disease. 

Phototherapy is just one option, but you should also ask your healthcare provider for other recommendations which can include things like laser therapy, injectable treatments, oral medications, and topical steroids. Of course, everyone’s skin is different, but the National Psoriasis Foundation also recommends lifestyle modifications like weight loss, regular exercise, short daily baths, a healthy diet, minimal alcohol intake, and reduced stress. Funnily enough, they do not recommend tanning beds.

You must also think about what you put on your skin on a daily basis to help reduce psoriasis symptoms like itching, burning, and flaking. 

Common skin triggers like strong chemicals, fragrances, and other irritants should be avoided. Colloidal oatmeal, however, which is found in products like Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion is a fantastic ingredient for helping to soothe itchiness and reduce inflammation. Petroleum jelly can also be an effective way to seal in moisture and reduce dryness from transepidermal water loss. Check out skincare brands like CeraVe, Bionatar, La Roche-Posay, and Curél who all have fantastic ranges of calming, soothing products that are ideal for psoriatic skin.

To really make your life easy, however, look out for our coveted SkinSAFE 100 Marker which helps you to seamlessly avoid the most common ingredients that can irritate your skin and trigger flare-ups in your psoriasis. Every single product that bears this marker is proven to be the safest formulation for sensitive skin based on clinical data from both ourselves and the Mayo Clinic. This means that using these products will significantly reduce irritation and give you peace of mind that you’re avoiding all of the top allergens and irritants. 

  1. https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriasis-statistics/

  2. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Wellness/khloe-kardashian-opens-skin-cancer-battle-changed-shape/story?id=103345265

  3. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/kim-kardashian-tanning-bed/

  4. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/treatment/medications/phototherapy


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