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Local Experts: Tanning Salons, Minors Keep Out

In light of a New Jersey mom allegedly taking her young child to a tanning salon, many agree this was the wrong thing to do.

Someone once said to me you can never be: too rich, too thin, or too tan.

For a long time I believed all of the above but then I got older, wiser and acquired a few wrinkles.

While I still agree that you can probably never have enough money, especially here in Orange County, you can be too thin and you sure can be too tan.

As women get older, things start to change -- everything seems to drop, right? So when you are too thin, it’s just not pretty. And being too tan can really look ugly. This leads me to the 'tanorexic' New Jersey mom who is so tan that she looks like a baseball glove.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a little color and when I was in college, I worked at a tanning salon to help pay my way through school and lift the financial burden from my folks. Growing up in Michigan and walking around tan in mid-January gets you some looks.

But this mom, Patricia Krentcil, who admittedly loves to tan, is charged with child endangerment. The Essex County prosecutor says she put her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning bed and let her stay there long enough to get burned. Krentcil pleaded not guilty to that charge last week. She says her daughter "got sunburned the old-fashioned way, hanging out in the yard without the proper protection."

Tanning Ban in California

Here in California, and as Patch reported in October, there is now a ban on tanning for those under 18. Even if you have a parents’ note to visit a tanning salon, forget it, you can’t, says Laguna Niguel-based 

She said that when parents do come to her salon for a tanning session, she tells them children are not allowed without adult supervision even if they are just waiting in the lobby. She isn’t a babysitter, or is her staff, nor should they be.

“A tanning salon really isn’t a place for a child," she said. “I don’t know all of the circumstances of the New Jersey mom's situation, but it depends on what kind of tanning booth she was in. To my knowledge, a stand-up tanning booth is totally enclosed. So there is no exposure to a child even if they are in the room with the parent. Think of it as a closet. So it’s highly unlikely that the little girl was exposed if that was the type she was in.”

Kadar-Pruin, however, added that a tanning salon is no place for a child, including teens under 18. “California passed a law that banned those under 18 from going to a tanning salon so it’s against the law,” she said.

If a salon lets a minor tan, it can be slapped with fines or shut down, she said.

Most professional tanning salons also prohibit more than one person in a tanning room at one time, adds the California Indoor Tanning Trade Organzation.

Safer Options 

For those who do want the look of a golden goddess, Kadar-Pruin said that spray tanning with an organic sugar-based product is available at the salon as are self tanners.

In terms of sun exposure, whether it’s the artificial type at a salon or you are outside basking under the real deal, Dr. Judy Huynh, D.O., a family medicine physician with Mission Hospital Affiliated Physicians in Laguna Hills said tanning is risky, especially for kids.

“Any sunburn, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, increases the risk for skin cancer later in life,” she said. “For children, it is crucial that sun safety be a priority for parents. Applying sunscreen prior to sun exposure, wearing protective clothing and avoiding indoor tanning are all ways to minimize this risk, regardless of age.”

My neighbor Catherine, who has four young kids, said she would never think of taking them to a tanning salon.

"Whenever we go to the beach, I slather them in sunscreen and even Zinc oxide," she said. "They walk around looking like little clowns, but at least I know they are protected. What was the New Jersey mom thinking, really?"

Parents Decision?

The Indoor Tanning Association believes that the decision regarding whether a teen should be allowed to suntan is a decision for parents, not government:

“The industry strongly supports parental consent which is already the law in New Jersey and other states.  However, it is a very slippery slope when government starts taking away the right to make very basic parenting decisions such as this.  Is the next step to ban teens from sun bathing at public beaches and pools? Right now in the state of New Jersey, a teenage girl can secure an abortion without her parent’s consent but if this legislation passes, cannot get a suntan with her parent’s consent.  16 or 17 year olds can drive cars, get married, own guns, hunt, and secure birth control and abortion services yet if these laws pass, they would not be allowed to suntan, even if their parents approved. Proponents of these laws always exaggerate the risks of exposure to ultraviolet light in order to get the attention of the public, the media and the government.  It is a fact that ultraviolet light from a sunbed is the same as that from the sun and regular moderate non-burning exposure is essential for good health. You also have to consider the health risks associated with banning teenagers from using tanning salons.  They will just go outside with no adult supervision and no trained staff where they are much more likely to get sunburned.” 

California Has High Stats for Skin Cancer

According to a report by the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency, skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States: 

■ A 2004 survey found that 34.8 percent of white adults in California had at least one sunburn in the past year. Sunburns are a significant risk factor for the development of skin cancer.

■ Melanoma—responsible for 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths—is the 5th most common cancer among Caucasians in California. The rat eof new diagnoses of melanoma in California has increased over the past decade,especially among Hispanics and Caucasians. 

■ About two Californians die of melanoma each day, for a total of more than 800 deaths from melanoma every year.

In addition, tanning isn’t so great for your appearance either.

“Suntanning beds are UVB which are short waves that although don't penetrate as deep as UVA, they are still very harmful to adults much less a child. Most skin damage happens before the age of 18 and the signs may not show how but the damage will result when he/she is older,” said Mosha Katani, a Laguna Niguel-based esthetician and celebrity makeup artist.

“A little natural vitamin D is great but tanning beds and long periods of sun exposure without sunscreen are very harmful especially for delicate young skin. I would never advise a parent to allow a minor in a tanning bed.”

Debbie L. Sklar May 11, 2012 at 02:07 AM
@Jeff: Didn't the husband notice her coloring? really?
Debbie Tharp May 11, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Breast implants? lol. Tanning beds? Where I grew up I was lucky to get new shoes on an occasion from any place other than Kmart. We sure do think up some amazing new problems for ourselves in our society with a little too much extra time and money. You guys are right about her skin too, that lady has some scary looking leather going on. In all seriousness though, let us never forget that a good dose of sunshine everyday is a good thing (the natural kind, not a UV bed). Kids should be outside playing more to get that vitamin D. Vitamin D, which is best received from the sun, helps us to RESIST cancer. And of course moderation is always the key. Not too little sun and never ever too much. I had a sunburn once that was so bad I had to be admitted to the hospital and put on steroids for the inflammation. It left some pretty ugly marks on my skin which are now permanent. Mom and dad really do have a major responsibility to teach their kids how to take care of their bodies. Let's just not let one example of an extremely rare case of idiocy from "leather face" mom turn us into sun-a-phobics, because to little sun is just as bad. It's malnourishment in fact, because those little Vitamin D pills just aren't what our bodies need to give us that ESSENTIAL vitamin that prevents rickets and osteomalacia. And don't forget that it is synthesized from cholesterol, so go ahead and eat your bacon and eggs before you go out to play! :D http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_D
Debbie L. Sklar May 11, 2012 at 08:06 PM
@Deb: great comments!
Marina Arnold May 12, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Fabulous article! I work everyday as a Derm RN side by side with both a Dermatologist and Plastic Surgeon, I can honestly tell you we see more skin cancer then ever before. The lady in N.J. has been quite a topic in our office. My first question was, "what on earth was that tanning facility thinking to allow her in there that often" we already know she has a loose screw, but what about the owner and employees of that place? They should be held just as responsible if not MORE! I actually signed the petition to banned minors from using tanning beds. Not only do we see the day to day sun damage but the skin cancer is more common then not. I hear everyday "if I only knew what I know now about the dangers of tanning I would be so spotty". As far as Vitamin D, yes we all need it. However you can achieve this in your daily diet and Vit D supplements. Please DO NOT SIT IN THE SUN for this, believe me you will be sorry. GO TO http://www.skincancerfoundation.org you will be very informed! If I sound passionate about this, thats because I am after what I see everyday!
Brian Greene May 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Congratulations on a great article, Debbie, and thank you for bringing this issue attention. Brian Greene, Monrovia

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