A New Jersey mother is charged with child endangerment after police say she made her 6-year-old daughter go tanning.
Patricia Krentcil, 44, has pleaded not guilty to the charge. She says the girl goes along to the tanning salon, but has never gone inside a tanning bed. The story raises questions about kids and the safety of indoor tanning.
It's estimated that nearly 30 million people use indoor tanning beds annually in the United States. Some, are even addicted.
Krentcil admits to tanning regularly, which is apparent when you see her, but says she does not have an addiction.
But she does have a legal problem. The mother of five was arrested after a school nurse noticed a burn on her fair-skinned child, Anna.
Krentcil says the girl got burned from being outside.
A Wausau dermatologist with Aspirus says being exposed to tanning beds is dangerous, no matter what your age and particularly for young people.
"My young female patients are using them for recreational purposes," said Katrina Smith, M.D. "They're getting tans as well as burns and we know it increases their risk for skin cancer, particularly melanoma," she said.
Dr. Smith says the damage from ultra violet light sustained before age 20 puts you at an even greater risk for developing skin cancer, and the World Health Organization has labeled tanning beds as a definite carcinogen.
Tanned skin is actually damaged skin, and when biopsied shows dying skin cells. Dr. Smith says her patients say they like the way tanning makes them feel, but the practice does have many adverse effects.
"More freckling, more discoloration, textural changes, the skin becomes pebbly, rough or leathery and makes you more wrinkled and makes you appear older than you are," she said.
Along with avoiding tanning beds, Dr. Smith recommends using sunscreen daily and staying out of the sun during peak hours.
Several sunless tanning sprays and lotions are readily available for those who want that sun-kissed look.
In Wisconsin you must be at least 16 to use an indoor tanning bed.