Turn from the burn: More people try spray tans as skin cancer cases rise

FISHERS, Ind. — With a week full of winter weather, those sunny summer days seem like a distant memory—leaving many to only dream of golden sun and tan skin.

Despite what the calendar says, many people across central Indiana will find other ways to keep their glow. A little snow never stopped Danielle Hudnut.

"I just feel better. I'm more confident when I'm tan," Hudnut says, admitting it once bordered on addiction. "I loved the sun. I loved baby oil. I loved the tanning bed. I did everything that I could."

All of that changed for Hudnut with news she received nearly 6 years ago.

"I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2012, and decided I was a mother of three and a wife and needed to live for them. My life needed a change. I needed to get out of the sun and out of the tanning bed, and had to find a different way."

She turned to spray tanning.

"You look and feel tan, but you don’t have any of those bad side effects," says Air-Tan owner Angela Alney.

Alney opened her first location in Indianapolis nearly 16 years ago. She says back then it was something mostly happening in Hollywood. Now she is set to open her fourth location in Greenwood next month. She says many clients have stories like Hudnut.

"I think there’s everything out there that is in your face that tells you not to do that. I think that’s a real deal addiction."

Now she hopes the demand she has seen is a sign that people are keeping their health in mind, and more are turning from UV rays and common misconceptions.

The biggest myth she says she hears is about base tan. "'I need to get my base tan because I need to go to Florida and that will be protective of my skin.'"

In reality, she says any form of darkening is a sign of damage, not protection.

For Hudnut, her constant exposure wasn't because of a lack of information. She says she was in denial.

"I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me. Most people are like, 'That’s not going to happen,'" says Hudnut.

Now she views her own health and the health of her children differently. She no longer visits the tanning bed, and she has a new friend in SPF.

She recalls the day when things in her life changed,the day she received her diagnosis.

"Terrified, scared, crying. I went straight to the dermatologist right after, and made her tell me right then and there. Tell me am I going to die? What’s happening to me? We’ve got to get this figured out. I’m scared."

It's a moment she hopes to never have again.

For additional information about skin cancer and UV exposure head to the Skin Cancer Foundation's website.

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