Rashes After Tanning? What, Where, and Why

Published Categorized as Beauty Tips

Ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of developing a rash after tanning? Yes, it does indeed happen. Our skin goes through a lot everyday that it isn’t unusual for rashes to develop when you’re getting some good ol’ outside time, or booth time for that matter. Rashes can develop whether or not you tan under the sun. So, do you find yourself with rashes after tanning? We’re here to help!

Hi beautiful! Just to let you know, we earn a modest commission off of purchases made through Amazon affiliate links on this page. Don't worry, it's of no extra cost to you. We love the products we recommend in this post, and we hope you do, too!

Table of Contents

Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Body Mousse, Self Tanner for Deep Bronze Tan, 6 Ounce, Sunless Tanning Body Bronzer, Natural Looking Fake Tan

Some may believe that tanning only has beautifying purposes. They could not be further from the truth. In fact, there are so many benefits to sun tanning that many people out there might decide to pop out into the sun right now. Not only is our sun the greatest and healthiest source of vitamin D, it is an incredible agent of therapeutic wellness that will even alleviate the symptoms of menstrual stress and mood swings.


Modern astrophysicists, driven by obsession, have studied and observed the sol (Latin for the sun) for centuries, and thanks to their efforts, we have now discovered numerous purposes behind its existence.

Our emotional well-being is greatly influenced by the amount of sunlight we are exposed to.

In psychological studies, it has even been found to be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder, a condition recognized as ‘winter blues.’ Patients diagnosed with this disease experience depression on cloudy days or whenever there is a lack of sunlight.

Exposure to tanning beds is an effective way to combat the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. In the same studies, it was found that exposure to sunlight can also reduce the symptoms associated with PMS, such as mild depression, physical discomfort, irritability, and social withdrawal.

Unfortunately, exposure to sunlight has a bad side. In many cases, the occurrence of skin rashes, known as miliaria, will break out. It can also occur when exposed to the heat of a tanning bed, and rashes have been noticed when using self-tan spray and tan lotion.

REY INFLATABLES Inflatable Adult Tanning Pool I Suntan Tub – Outdoor Lounge Pool I Adult Kiddie Blow Up Pool I Blowup One Person Personal Pool for Relaxation and Sunbathing

What are the Rashes That Appear After Using a Tanning Bed?

Tanning beds are a popular means to obtain that Brazilian tone that many ladies love having, but sometimes we break out in an irritable rash.

Often, we blame bad hygiene, but this is not the cause. That familiar tanning bed rash can be identified as an itchy, red, and bumpy appearance on the skin which develops within the first days or hours after exposure.

What are the Causes?

A tanning bed rash can be caused by several factors. The most common cause is dry skin. If you go for a session under the hot lamps of a tanning bed, it will draw out all the remaining moisture in your skin and will do this rather effortlessly.

When all the natural oils in your skin evaporate, it will no longer have any form of defense, causing it to retaliate with irritated pores that will respond by forming a scaly, red rash.

Another cause could also be overexposure to UV rays, or, as it is called, sun poisoning. The skin is as much an organ of the body like any other, and it has its limits. If you exceed its limits, it will respond in a rash.

A third possible cause, yet one less common, could be an allergic reaction. In these cases, it may either be a product that you have applied, or the residue that remained from someone who used the bed before you.

It could even be caused by chemical burns from tanning bed cleaning materials. In such cases, consult the management to find out what products they use. It could also be caused by miliaria, which is discussed further on in the article.

How to Avoid Rashes When Using a Tanning Bed

The first method to avoid rashes because of dry skin would be to make sure that your skin is adequately hydrated. Either half-an-hour to an hour before, or the day before, hydrate your skin with a good moisturizer.

To prevent overexposure or sun poisoning from a tanning bed, do not use the bed at extreme settings, and avoid further exposure or pre-exposure beforehand.

In order to prevent allergic reactions, wipe the bed with a hypoallergenic cloth before use.
If you want to prevent heat rash or miliaria, do not tan in tight-fitting clothes that will block sweat pores.

Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Lotion With Bronzer, 8 Ounce, New Package Same Formula, B003GX5SSC

What are the Rashes That Appear After Spray Tanning or Sun Tan Lotion?

It is possible to develop rashes from suntan lotions, tan spray, and even sunscreen lotion. These rashes are the direct result of allergies. Some products contain chemicals that certain skins are sensitive to, and the rising result from exposure is contact dermatitis. Try to identify what ingredients you are allergic to and avoid using products with them in the formulation.

Here is a list of some identified agents that may be the cause of your allergic reaction.

  • Benzophenones, identified as benzophenone-3 and oxybenzone
  • Dibenzoylmethane
  • Cinnamates
  • Some added fragrances

How to Test for Allergies in a Safe Way

Most allergic reactions can happen within minutes or may take up to two days. Allergic reactions can also result only after exposure to sunlight.

To test a product, apply a little to the inside of your elbow. Wait for it to dry, expose to sunlight, and if nothing happens within two days to the exposed area, you may likely use the product safely.

What are the Rashes that Appear After Tanning Under the Sun?

In many cases, exposure to the sun can cause heat rash, identified as miliaria. Miliaria forms when the sweat pores of the skin become blocked, and sweat seeps instead into the skin.

This is a common reaction in places where hot and humid conditions are the major cause. Anything that can block the pores could also be a resulting cause, and this includes overdressing, tight-fitting clothes, or oily substances that are rubbed on the skin.

Symptoms can vary in degree, influenced by exposure and the conditioning of the skin. Most heat rashes will dissipate, but recovery can be sped up by cooling the skin and avoiding further sweating.

Summary of Rash Prevention

  • To prevent rashes from tanning beds always hydrate the skin before every tanning session
  • Do not exceed exposure to UV rays by never using the tanning bed for prolonged periods or at extreme settings
  • For hypoallergenic safety always clean and wipe down the tanning bed before you use it
  • If you are aware of existing allergies avoid products with known reactants
  • Do not use spray or tan lotion that contains fragrances or allergens that your skin could be sensitive to
  • To prevent heat rash do not overdress on hot days, avoid extreme humidity and do not wear tight-fitting clothes
  • Do not use oily substances and avoid grease on the skin before tanning in the sun
  • Apply calamine lotion before or after tanning to prevent rashes completely, and always ensure that your skin stays hydrated
Australian Gold Dark Tanning Accelerator Lotion With Bronzer, 8 Ounce, New Package Same Formula, B003GX5SSC

Skin Rashes After Tanning

The sun and its radiation are vital for our well-being, but in some cases, photodermatitis and heat rash could spoil our fun in the warm season.

If it does occur, though, that your day and tanning session don’t turn out that good, here is a link to buy calamine lotion; it is an excellent remedy and will even help prevent any of the above-mentioned rashes from occurring.

Have fun and take care. Remember, your skin is an organ like your kidneys, and it needs all the TLC you can give it.

Interested in learning more about tanning? Check out out other tanning posts:

What are your tanning tips?

By Ellis James

We design luxuriously glamorous bags, organizers and life essentials for you. At Ellis James Designs, it’s all about YOU. Your bag, Your way. Our exclusive designs are timeless, indulgent and most importantly inspired by you. What will be your first Ellis James Design?


  1. When everything else fails, we mustn’t forget to consult a professional! You’re welcome, Nancy!

  2. This was such an informative post. I haven’t used a tanning bed before, but have had the heat rash when out in the sun. Now I know what it was!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Aimsy xoxo

  3. It is a bummer when rashes appear after a tan. It is great that there are some topical creams to help with the rash. Also important to see a doctor if needed! Last thing you want is to find out this is all happening because of an allergy. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    Nancy ✨

  4. This was an informative read- back when I used to tan indoors, I would TOTALLY get a red rash sometimes! My skin tends to be on the dry side, and of course I wasn’t properly moisturizing as a teen, so this makes total sense now. 🙂

    Le Stylo Rouge

  5. I try to avoid the sun and don’t use beds or sprays so I’ve never had a rash from tanning but I do have to be careful with my SPFs. I get rashes from mineral SPFs so I have to use chemical formulas which is a real shame as I’d opt for physical/ mineral if I had the choice.


  6. This is such a great and informative post. I usually always get a rash after tanning out on the beach!

Comments are closed.