Doctors warn about danger from inhaling while getting a spray tan

Posted on: 9:19 pm, November 14, 2012, by , updated on: 10:08am, November 15, 2012

DENVER — Spray tanning is increasing in popularity as a way to look like you’ve spent a week on the beach even if you’ve been cooped up in an office for months.

It was considered a safe alternative to getting a tan the old fashioned way — by spending time in the sun and being exposed to ultraviolet rays.

However, recent studies have raised questions about the safety of inhaling a chemical used in spray tanning solutions.

The chemical is dihydroxyacetone or DHA.  It is what makes your skin take on the bronzed glow.  Dihydroxyacetone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1973 for use in self-tanning lotions, which are applied directly to the skin and not inhaled.

FOX31 Denver talked to Dr. Karin Pacheco of National Jewish Health about the potential side effects of spray tanning. 

“We just don’t know what it does if you inhale it. And so it’s a cautionary concern,” Pacheco said. “I don’t think there’s enough to be scared about it, but it’s something you need more information about. That’s how I review it.”

Alix Peterson, owner of Sinless Sun in Cherry Creek, said she is not worried about inhaling the spray, nor does she feel her clients are at risk. “The amount that a client is inhaling, even if they tanned weekly, is miniscule. We use about an ounce to an ounce and a half, on each client, so there’s really very minimal that they could inhale. And on top of that, we have specially designed ventilation, exhaust systems, in each of our rooms,” Peterson explained.

Dr. Pacheco said the bottom line for those who want to continue getting spray tans is to do it in moderation. “Don’t go overboard, cover your mouth and nose while you’re doing it, try to back off on the frequency and wait ‘til we have more information for you,” Dr. Pacheco advises.

See an European study on DHA here