Can Diabetics Go in Tanning Beds?

Tanning darkens the skin by exposing it to ultraviolet (UV) lights. The UV lights used for tanning cause the skin to feel that it’s getting damaged, and it begins to produce chemicals in the cells to protect itself. Tanning therapy works the same way as radiotherapy, but only to make the skin darker.

So can diabetics go in tanning beds or sunbeds?

People with diabetes must avoid going in tanning beds because of diabetic complications such as skin sensitivity and dehydration from heat exposure. The tanning process uses UV lights which can irritate the skin with heat. Also, tanning can cause blood sugar to rise and cause insulin resistance, which can make health conditions much worse. Moreover, exposure to radiation for too long can cause blood glucose levels to rise, and the effects of radiation therapy can worsen insulin resistance. 

The heat from the sunbed can also raise blood sugar levels in people who aren’t careful. Want to know about more problems diabetic people can face while tanning? Then you need to read this article to the end and find out all the tanning dos and don’ts for people with diabetes.

Why Shouldn’t Diabetics Go In Tanning Beds?

Here is the list of reasons why you shouldn’t:

  • Tanning and UV rays can cause your blood sugar to become irregular.
  • The tanning process causes the blood sugar to spike, or depending on the kind of diabetes treatment you’re on, it can even cause your blood sugar levels to plummet.
  • Metformin and certain other medications can cause photosensitivity, which is why UV exposure from tanning beds can be harmful.
  • Exposure to excessive heat from UV lights can also cause dehydration and heat stroke, which can be deadly for people with diabetes.

So, to get tanned with diabetes, you must first talk to your doctor about it. You must constantly monitor your diabetes vitals throughout the process.

How Does Radiation From Tanning Beds Affect Diabetics?

Tanning is a good way to darken the skin naturally and improve our skin’s health. The tanning beds expose our skin to artificial ultraviolet lights that irritate our skin and cause chemical reactions that cause the darkening effect. However, the radiation from tanning beds can be harmful to diabetics.

One of the biggest dangers for a diabetic person while tanning is dehydration. The tanning beds use heat emitted from UV rays to cause the tanning effect on the skin. When a person with diabetes is overexposed to direct heat, they become more susceptible to dehydration, which can be life-threatening.

Another harmful effect of tanning is that the radiation from the ultraviolet lights can increase insulin sensitivity and cause the buildup of excess blood glucose in the system, which can later cause hyperglycemia.

Can You Tan While Taking Metformin?

One of the side effects of using metformin/Glyburide is that it makes skin sensitive to sun and heat exposure. Similar to metformin, other diabetes medications can make skin more sensitive to sun exposure. That is why diabetics must take precautions against direct sun exposure and avoid tanning or going to tanning beds altogether.

Now you must be wondering – what medications can you not tan with? According to the FDA guideline, you must avoid all types of medications that cause skin sensitivity to ultraviolet light and the sun. If you are planning to get a sun tan, read the list of medicines to avoid from here.

How Can I Safely Get Tanned With Diabetes?

Because of all the health risks, avoiding tanning is better if you have diabetes. But if you have to tan your skin for some reason, you must be careful and remember that it can be very dangerous. Here are some safety precautions:

  • Consider using a safe and FDA-approved self-tanning product or spray tan. Unlike tanning beds and sun exposure, some tanning products don’t cause harm.
  • To use a tanning bed safely, you must first talk to your doctor to be sure you’re fit enough.
  • Afterward, it would help if you were properly hydrated to protect yourself from dehydration.
  • You must monitor your diabetes levels and stop the tanning process instantly if your body exceeds normal blood glucose levels.
  • You must remember to instantly get out of the sunbed if you feel sick or uneasy.

As we already discussed in this article, it’s not wise to go tanning if you have diabetes. Among all the activities diabetes restricts, tanning is one of them. Tanning can trigger reactions in your body that can cause tremendous damage if you have diabetes.

Radiation therapy, like tanning beds, uses ultraviolet rays to cause cellular reactions that cause the skin to darken. The heat coming from the UV lights can trigger dehydration, which can be deadly for people with diabetes.

It can also cause the blood sugar levels in your system to rise drastically and cause insulin resistance. When the cells become resistant to insulin, they cannot metabolize the excess blood glucose, which can cause hyperglycemia.

FAQs about Can Diabetics Go in Tanning Beds?

Are Tanning Beds Bad For Diabetics?

To put it bluntly, tanning beds are bad for people with diabetes. Tanning beds can trigger reactions in the body that can cause further complications for people with diabetes. It can cause blood sugar levels to go up and cause hyperglycemia and dehydration.

Can Diabetics Go In Sunbeds?

No, you shouldn’t go into sunbeds if you have diabetes. Sunbeds can cause your blood sugar to rise because of the effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays on the body. The heat and ultraviolet radiation from sunbeds can also cause heatstroke and dehydration. Going to sunbeds for a long time can also cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Why Is Heat Bad For Diabetics?

Heat is bad for diabetics because of certain diabetes complications. For example, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves. This, in turn, affects sweat glands causing your body to overheat. Also, heat exposure can lead to heat exhaustion and also cause dehydration among people with diabetes. These are also some of the reasons why diabetics must avoid tanning beds as they get hot.

Does Radiation Affect Blood Glucose?

Yes, radiation affects blood glucose levels as it interferes with them. Radiation causes our blood sugar levels to spike and hinders the metabolization process. It can even cause insulin resistance, leading to hyperglycemia in people with diabetes.

Does Tanning Bed Raise Blood Sugar?

If you’ve undergone radiation treatment and you have diabetes, then your blood sugar levels will spike. Radiation from tanning causes your blood sugar to rise because it causes chemical reactions in your cells that trigger blood sugar production to help your body cope with the effects. But since the therapies make your cells resistant to insulin, your body won’t be able to metabolize the excessive blood sugar in your system, causing hyperglycemia.


Some people like to tan to feel more attractive. They like the feel of their skin after a good session on the tanning bed. But people with diabetes who love to get tanned often don’t ask themselves, “Can diabetics go in tanning beds?” before going for a session under the UV lights. People should understand that no matter how much you think tanning sessions help you, you should avoid going for tans if you have diabetes.

Marzia Khan
Marzia Khan

Marzia Khan is the director of content and operations at RobustAlive. She contributes to content strategy and process management across product initiatives, RND, and the editorial. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Frontline, and the PBS. Before joining RobustAlive, she also co-authored award-winning research on health and wellness and participated in various initiatives to increase awareness about healthy living and chronic disease prevention. She acts as the co-editor for RobustAlive and brings an expansive network of connections to the table while managing activity execution where required.