Dangers of Prom

Laura Sirrianni

     Prom is often perceived as being one of the most memorable nights of a student’s high school career. As such, many students begin preparing for the special night months in advance in order to look and feel their best for the big event. Although practices such as tanning, crash dieting and hair dying are not uncommon during the prom season, many of them end up causing both short and long term damage to the body if not performed correctly.

     Tanning booths have become quite popular in prom preparation, due to the luxury of air conditioning inside the beds alongside the ability to tan regardless of weather conditions. Although tan skin may make you look and feel good, the process can permanently damage your body and in some cases even lead to skin cancer. The essential danger in tanning is exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays, which penetrate deep into the skin, causing damage. According to healthcentral.com, tanning beds emit three times the amount of UV light as the sun does, causing skin damage such as sunburn and early skin aging. There are more serious risks as well, that are boosted by frequent tanning booth usage starting at younger ages. Melanoma, the most common form of skin cancer, is often caused by overexposure to UV lights. In addition to amount of time spent bed baking, the age that one starts to tan can increase the risk of skin cancer. According to the Associated Press, the risk of cancer jumps 75 percent if a person begins tanning in beds before age 30. In addition to skin cancer, tanning beds can cause eye damage to the cornea and retina and is known to cause conjunctivitis according to Health Central. In order to prevent these dangers and get a safe tan, quality sunless tanners, such as Clinique or Neutrogena brands, are a good alternative.

     Another commonly practiced, yet highly unsafe, pre-prom precaution is crash dieting in order to lose weight right before the date. Crash dieting, or eating very little for a short period of time, is extremely unhealthy and fairly results in substantial weight loss. The body loses many of its essential nutrients during crash diets because it receives very little nutrients, which creates a greater risk of illness due to a weakened immune system as well as the feeling of being physically weak. Crash dieting also slows the body’s metabolism, causing much of the weight lost in the diet to be muscle and water weight instead of actual fat. Therefore, when the weight is gained back after crash dieting, it is common to weigh more than before with the new fat being added to the old fat that was still in the body after the diet. Many vital organs function by using the body’s carbohydrates (which are provided by food intake) and receive low intake during crash diets. In order to continue functioning properly these organs like the brain, heart and liver, begin to burn their muscle tissue. The burning tissues can even lead to serious conditions such as organ failure as well as stroke. Crash dieting also puts the body at a greater risk of Osteoporosis, a bone disease, due to the low amount of calcium according to epigee.org. In order to avoid these risks, a healthy dietary plan mixed with exercise will help lose the right type of weight. Cutting out sugary fats and following the food pyramid will ensure a balanced diet.

     Hair dying is another popular pre-prom activity that many girls do before the big night. Though a fresher color may look good in pictures, hair becomes noticeably damaged after dying, and can even take on longer term effects. If hair is being bleached or dyed a lighter color, the chemicals are so strong that they end up causing the hair to be dull and brittle after as the hair’s pigment is altered. This ultimately makes the hair more fragile and susceptible to split ends and breakage, especially when combined with heat damage and styling. Because of the chemicals in hair dye, chemical burns, rashes and redness are common. These skin irritations usually appear on the neck or scalp, which can cause the skin to flake off and look like dandruff. Hair dye can also hold more serious risks, such as eye damage causing blindness, which is why dying eyebrows is strongly discouraged. There even some speculation that hair dye can cause lymphoma cancer. If hair dying is completely necessary, it is much safer to have it done professionally and deep condition once a week.

     Although prom is a very important night to many, the risks for preparation are simply not worth the long term health risks that come along with them. There are always many other alternatives to getting tanned skin and a slimmer body, and your body will thank you in years to come when you are not confronted with diseases and illness for one night of high school fun.