The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?  (Read 10795 times)

Sandi Fosnot

  • Guest
Sandi Fosnot  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi guys,

(This is Sandi a loyal listener from Ohio USA)

I was wondering why when I went on birth control that I was no longer able to tan. As a child I would tan beautifully, but now as an adult I can't get a tan at all, I just burn (even in the tanning bed). Does this have something to do with the hormones in the birth control pills or is there something else happening?

Also, Is there anything I can do to be able to tan again. I have not been on birth control for about 3 years now but I still cannot tan. Am I cursed to permanently be ghostly white or is there something I can do to get back to tanning?

Hope you guys can help, thanks a lot! Love the show!

Sandi Fosnot

What do you think?


 

Offline theavenger

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • chemist and adventurer
    • View Profile
Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?
« Reply #1 on: 15/04/2009 23:34:49 »
I am unaware of any tanning/birth control connection whatsoever.
 

Offline RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8131
  • Thanked: 53 times
    • View Profile
Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?
« Reply #2 on: 16/04/2009 02:36:14 »
Melasma is hyperpigmentation caused by female hormones ...

Quote
Melasma is thought to be the stimulation of melanocytes or pigment-producing cells by the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone to produce more melanin pigments when the skin is exposed to sun. Women with a light brown skin type who are living in regions with intense sun exposure are particularly susceptible to developing this condition.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melasma

But you if lack melanocytes (cannot tan, only burn) that would be hypopigmentation.


Vitiligo is a form of hypopigmentation, on a dark skinned person it is very conspicuous, however a white person may only notice they have vitiligo when they no longer tan, only burn. 

 

Offline Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8667
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?
« Reply #3 on: 16/04/2009 21:15:55 »
In one sense, I am in the sam eposition as the original poster in that "As a child I would tan beautifully, but now as an adult I can't get a tan at all, I just burn "
However, since I'm a man I think it's more to do with age than anything else. It's certainly not "the pill" in  my case.
 

Offline techmind

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 934
  • Un-obfuscated
    • View Profile
    • techmind.org
Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?
« Reply #4 on: 16/04/2009 22:11:03 »
Without more specific evidence, I would suggest that as a child we tend to experience a large number of smaller doses of sunshine which are more conducive to building up a tan. As an adult we tend to spend more time indoors, and may try to tan "deliberately"; a few large doses of sun are far more likely to cause burning than a more natural brief-and-often exposure pattern.

From personal experience a few years ago when we had particularly fine weather one holiday, I would say it takes a minimum of 5-7 daily exposures (with each day's exposure a little shorter than your personal threshold for burning) to aquire a significant (but not especially deep) tan. Playtime at school (or after school) might achieve that without you noticing, and often the exposure will be much less than your burning-threshold. Trying to achieve the same thing at weekends and around other commitments as an adult will be harder.

I suspect that if you get the exposure "occupationally", starting in the early spring then you will gradually build up a tan which is sufficient to protect you from burning as the sun progressively gets stronger towards the summer. If as an adult the first exposure of the year is a beach somewhere in mid-summer (or even a one-off spectator at a football/tennis/cricket game), your skin will be totally unprepared. Ouch!
« Last Edit: 16/04/2009 22:21:01 by techmind »
 

Offline techmind

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 934
  • Un-obfuscated
    • View Profile
    • techmind.org
Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?
« Reply #5 on: 16/04/2009 23:16:30 »
Sandi Fosnot  asked the Naked Scientists:
Am I cursed to permanently be ghostly white or is there something I can do to get back to tanning?

(Assuming you don't actually have an abnormal skin condition...)

I could suggest you try the tanning bed (if only because you can control your exposure much more consistantly than the sun):
1) Begin with a very low dose - maybe 1 minute (start with perhaps a quarter of whatever the salon reckons is a typical starting duration if you believe you burn that easily)
2) Increase the exposure time by about 30% on each subsequent visit (assuming visits perhaps 1-3 days apart). Write down the duration you used after every visit. If at all possible, use exactly the same machine each time, so you know you're getting a consistent dose.
3) The first time you suffer early signs of burning (redness/itchiness), back off the duration of the next session to the level of the one before which was ok.
4) Maybe only increase exposure by 20% on subsequent visits. If you do get any signs of burning, go back to step 3.
5) Know when enough is enough, and stop going - or drop back to a more occasional (fortnightly?) top-up dose!
6) Still take care in the sun.



That said, try at your own risk.
There's a vocal minority who will insist that any tan equals "damage". Burning is self-evidently bad and I believe it's well known that "excessive" UV will age the skin prematurely. I like to think that modest UV exposure and at a level which does not cause burning can't be that bad - but I'm no dermatology expert!

PS. I've never used a sunbed, but have monitored my sun exposure closely at times.
« Last Edit: 16/04/2009 23:26:29 by techmind »
 

Offline instyler4eva

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?
« Reply #6 on: 08/03/2010 14:06:12 »
I would say that birth control on no way prohibits you from getting a suntan in a tanning bed. If that were the case, they would market it as a sunblock as well and contraceptive.  Skin changes with age, perhaps you are not out in the sun as much as you were as a child. Go to the tanning salon and build a nice base tan.



Mod edit - Naughty spam removed and blacklisted.
« Last Edit: 08/03/2010 16:35:10 by BenV »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Why would birth control pills stop me from tanning?
« Reply #6 on: 08/03/2010 14:06:12 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums