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Tanning Addiction: Are You Having Too Much Fun in the Sun?

By HERWriter
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are you addicted to tanning and too much fun in the sun? Auremar/PhotoSpin

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.

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EmpowHER Guest

mmm. I've seen a case like this in "Strange Addiction." It really is a sad thing to see. I hope nobody ever does it because it literally damages the skin and it makes you look odd. Why not learn love your skin color. - Brenda Lee Reed

June 14, 2013 - 11:49am
EmpowHER Guest

Tan or don't tan! Up to you but Tanning Addictions DO NOT EXIST!

Tanning is NOT addictive. The reaction in our brains to release endorphins and our skin turning brown are 2 very different biological reactions to UV exposure and are unrelated. This article leads readers to believe that it is tanning that is “addictive”/attracted when I fact it is exposure to UV light. This attraction exists independently of an indivduals desire to be brown and would exist regardless of whether or not someone got a tan.

“increase release of opioid- like endorphins, feel-good chemicals that relieve pain and generate feelings of well-being, potentially leading to dependency,”

Our attraction to UV light is a natural response to something we were biologically intended to do. Drugs and alchohol are not.

June 14, 2013 - 5:13am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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