How to Treat Tanning Bed Rash

Tanning is a popular pastime, but quite a few people get out of the tanning bed with more than a healthy glow. Tanning bed rash is a skin condition that is not uncommon among tanners. The rash consists of patches of small, extremely itchy, bumps that appear shortly after a tanning session. These rashes are uncomfortable but luckily they are fairly easy to treat.

How to Treat Tanning Bed Rash

Stop all tanning for the duration of the outbreak. Continuing to tan after noticing a tanning bed rash will often lead to the spread, or worsening, of the rash. It is important to let the irritated skin heal before returning to tanning.

Keep the rash area clean and dry. Wash daily using lukewarm water instead of hot water. Too much hot water can dry out and further irritate the rash. After washing, pat the rash dry instead of rubbing.

Use antibiotic ointment or cream to help fight the bacteria causing tanning bed rash. Apply a small amount of ointment to the rash and rub it completely into the skin to keep the area moist and protected. Reapply to clean skin as needed throughout the day for fastest results.

Take an antihistamine (such as Benadryl) to treat itching and possible allergic reactions. Some tanning bed rashes are caused by an allergic reaction to cleaning supplies or tanning lotion. Using an antihistamine will combat any allergic reactions while stop itching, which, through scratching, often leads to the spread of rashes.

Identify the cause of the tanning bed rash. Over time even the best treatments lose effectiveness. Clean the tanning bed prior to use with hypoallergenic wipes to avoid skin reactions to cleansers used by the salon. Change tanning lotions and start using products designed for sensitive skin, containing no accelerators. Take breaks during tanning to wipe sweat from the tanning bed and your body to avoid rashes caused by clogged pores.


If tanning bed rashes do not heal or worsen after one week, consult a doctor or dermatologist.