People are being warned about the health dangers of unlicensed tanning injections and nasal sprays.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued an alert over products containing the substance melanotan. They are being sold over the internet but also in gyms, beauty parlours and tanning salons.
The MHRA has received 18 reports of 74 separate reactions suspected to be caused by melanotan, including stomach and heart problems as well as blood and eye disorders.
It has closed down 72 websites offering melanotan within the last three months and said it would continue to monitor websites targeting UK consumers.
Products called Melanotan I, Melanotan II and Ubertan increase levels of melanin in the body and result in a tan.
None of the products has been approved for use in the UK and carry the risk of serious side-effects. The products can also be injected, carrying an extra risk of infection from needles.
The MHRA’s senior policy advisor for Enforcement, Lynda Scammell, said: “People should not be fooled that this is a shortcut to getting a tan safely.
“These tanning products have not been approved for use in the UK and there are no guarantees that they are safe, of an acceptable quality or effective in use.”
Nina Goad, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “It is worrying that people seem to be ignoring the warnings about tanning injections.
“There are several reports of people’s health suffering as a result of using such products, which illustrates why people should stick with safer ways of getting a tan, such as self-tanning lotions.
“The very fact that it is illegal for sale in the UK should serve as the strongest warning against injecting a substance into your body for which we don’t yet have the full safety data.”
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