It’s summertime, which means in many places it’s time to throw on shorts or a bathing suit and bare more skin to the world than you have in months. For naturally tan or darker women, it might not be a major ordeal. But if you happen to be pasty white, you might be tempted to head to a tanning booth or sit in the sun to get some “color.”
Although exposing yourself to ultraviolet radiation through tanning beds or the sun even occasionally is not good for your health according to studies and experts, a couple times probably won’t kill you.
But what if you increase that to three times a week, or once a day, or even twice a day? If you are tanning excessively, you might have an unofficial disorder called “tanning addiction.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation website, tanning is appealing not only for appearances. It has also been found to enhance mood, provide relaxation and socialization for tanners. In fact, UV light in tanning could lead to addictive behaviors.
“UV light has been shown to increase release of opioid- like endorphins, feel-good chemicals that relieve pain and generate feelings of well-being, potentially leading to dependency,” according to the website.
Frequent tanners could demonstrate a physical and psychological dependency toward tanning. And they might suffer from other mental health conditions, such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which might initially have led them to tan excessively, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation website.
Dr. Jessica Krant, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology and board-certified dermatologist, said in an email that tanning addiction is a real problem, and it can follow the textbook definition for addiction perfectly:
“Tanning so much that it disrupts other aspects of life, friends and loved ones tell you it's too much but you do it anyway, and you persist even while knowing that you are causing yourself to be very likely to get cancer and faster aging,” she said.