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Sun Safety: Save Your Skin

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Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

Some tanning sprays contain DHA, a color additive that interacts with the dead surface cells in the outermost layer of the skin, to darken skin color. It is commonly used in "sunless tanning" lotions, creams, and spray-on products.

DHA is approved by the FDA for use in coloring the skin, but it is limited to external application. The industry has not provided safety data to the FDA to consider approving it for other uses, such as applying it to your lips or the area of your eyes, or inhaling it. Therefore, the risks, if any, are unknown. The FDA recommends that if you visit a spray tanning salon, take precautions to protect your eyes and lips and avoid inhaling the spray.

Some tanning products on the market do not contain sunscreen. The FDA requires these products to carry a warning statement.

Check for Skin Cancer

Check your skin regularly for signs of skin cancer. Look for changes in the size, shape, color or feel of birthmarks, moles and spots. If you find any changes or find sores that are not healing, see your doctor.

For more information about topics for your health, visit the FDA Consumer Information Center

Return to the Protect Your Health Homepage

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on September 02, 2014
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