Spray tans have become a popular way to get that sun-kissed look. For most people, it's safer than tanning beds or the sun. But, for others, it can pose a different kind of danger.
An open sign shows the Sun Spa in Platte City, MO, is still open for business, but there's another sign that one local girl said should be posted on the door before people with allergies even make it inside.
"It's something that I could have died from," Alyssa Misemer said.
That thought is the real memory she will take away from her sophomore year Homecoming dance. It was a night with so much anticipation. She wanted to look her best so she bought a new dress, got her hair done and got a spray tan.
But that's where the picture takes a sharp turn from happy memories to misery.
"I was hoping to get a little bit of a tan," Alyssa said.
She went in for a spray tan the day before Homecoming. She experienced some mild itching right away, but then in the early morning hours after the dance, things turned from a slight discomfort to something much worse.
"It was really bad around my knees," Alyssa said. "It felt like I had a third-degree burn all over my body with mosquito bites covering every single inch of me."
Her mom called Sun Spa and asked the employees what was in the spray and her answer came amongst a long list of ingredients.
"The lady started reading off the ingredients and a lot of the names I didn't really recognize, and then she said ‘walnut extract' and I said ‘that's it,'" Dawn Misemer said.
Alyssa is severely allergic to nuts.
"I have to be extremely aware because I can't inhale it, I can't touch it," Alyssa said.
But Alyssa had had a spray tan at Sun Spa before with no reaction and she thought she was safe. In no way was she prepared for the itching, the burning and the welts that lasted more than two weeks.
"It was extremely emotional because I never thought that it was going to stop or end," Alyssa said.
Her family thinks the formula for the spray tan changed, but the spa didn't post any signs warning of the nut ingredient. The Misemers said that omission is wrong.
"I think it's important for people to know it because a nut allergy can be deadly," Dawn Misemer said.
Sun Spa's owner has not returned KCTV5's repeated calls for comment. A store manager said Friday they do not believe there are any allergens in their tanning spray, though there are similar products that do contain nuts.
Either way, the Misemers want to spread the word to check on ingredients before getting a spray tan.
"I don't want someone to go through what I went through, because it was terrible and miserable," Alyssa said.
For Alyssa, it was a time to remember for all the wrong reasons.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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