Main | Friday, July 28, 2006

Pass The Tanning Butter

According to today's AM New York, New York City is working on legislation that will require parental consent for children under 18 to patronize tanning salons, a law that exists in many other municipalities. The state is working on similar legislation. Unsurprisingly, the tanning salon industry is alarmed that these laws are the beginning of outlawing tanning salons entirely.

This provides me a good segueway to mention that last week I visited a dermatologist who used liquid nitrogen to treat me for actinic keratosis, small precancerous patches that appeared in several places on my upper face over the last few months. Skin cancer runs in my family, both my mother and my sister have been treated for it. And I grew up in Florida as a gay man during the height of the 70's & 80's tanning craze, during which we took baby oil to the pool and beach, not sunscreen. Was sunscreen even available back then? Can anybody imagine using baby oil in these skin conscious times?

So knowing I've got all the risk factors, I'm very fair skinned, I'm of Northern European descent, I have light eyes, I've been badly sunburned several times and combined with my family history and my own history of heavy tanning, I've been sort of expecting skin cancer to appear eventually. Luckily, the dermatologist was optimistic and after enduring a surprisingly uncomfortable series of shots from her liquid nitrogen blowtorch, she told me I didn't need to return for another year, unless "something happens".

Over the last five or six years I've been rather careful to avoid the sun. I'm always with the SPF 40 if I'm going to be outdoors. Still, when I walk past Hollywood Tans, which is about 300 feet from my apartment, I sometimes look at their signage and think "maybe I'll just dash in for some color". I haven't done it yet and the memory of those nitrogen blasts will dissuade me for the time being. Maybe the city will save me from myself and just do away with tanning salons entirely.

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