Would you risk your health for a bronze glow?
A Cork doctor has warned that young people are doing just that by jabbing themselves with unregulated tanning injections purchased online.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Dr John Sheehan said he has seen an increase in patients who admitted injecting the mystery solution claiming to be melatonin into their skin, although many are reluctant to admit it to their doctor.
“It’s bought on the internet or they usually get it from friends: it’s a completely unregulated and illegal medication.” Dr Sheehan said.
“The idea I think behind it is that they want a tan… it’s a completely unregulated medicine, and they don’t know what they’re injecting into bodies and that’s really the concern with it.”
The injections are administered into the fatty layer of tissue around the belly button area once or twice a week to maintain the darkened skin colour. Many users also use a UV tanning bed to make the effects more dramatic.
Serious side effects
Dr Sheehan said the main side effects tend to be nausea and cramps. Acne, heart problems, kidney failure and an increased risk of skin cancer are also among a scary list of potential risks.
“I recently came across an 18-year-old girl who admitted it, and I suppose my concern is I didn’t see her for the last year and a half, probably because there was no social event to be going to, there was nothing happening – so it really didn’t matter whether you were tanned or not,” he said.
“But the difficulty is nobody knows what they are, you just go on the internet and buy them.
“And then the other difficulty is are people injecting: are they using sterile needles and all the infections and things like that associated with that”.
The HSE warns that there are no clinical trials available on the short and long-term effects of using these products. The amount of product in the vial may vary considerably and it may be contaminated with bacteria or other chemicals.
“There is no trial data available on how these products may interact with other drugs or their effect on an unborn child.”