CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Now that we have shorter days and less sunshine, some people may be turning to indoor tanning beds to keep their color – which can be dangerous.

“I think there is a misperception out there that tan skin is healthy skin. And so they feel like if they go to the tanning bed, then they are healthier, which is just a myth,” said Melissa Piliang, MD, dermatologist for Cleveland Clinic.

“Tanning beds are dangerous and they markedly increase your risk of skin cancer.” Dr. Piliang said even just one trip to the tanning bed increases your risk for melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer. And, the more you go, the higher the risk.

She said if you do want to stay tan for winter, consider a self-tanner instead. There are many options available at the store and salons.

Dr. Piliang said self-tanners won’t damage your DNA or increase your risk for skin cancer.

So, what if you have been tanning for a while and are now concerned?

She said it’s important to closely examine your skin for anything abnormal and consult with a dermatologist.

“If you’re a tanning bed user, stop. But even if you haven’t stopped, go talk to your dermatologist,” she said.

“Let them look at your skin, make sure that you don’t have a skin cancer already. Let them talk to you about what to worry about and look for in the future.”

If you’re thinking about getting a “base tan” by going tanning before a vacation or cruise, Dr. Piliang discourages that too. She said you’re better off using self-tanner and applying lots of sunscreen.