Summer is just around the corner and you can’t wait to throw on your bikini and relax in the warmth of the sun. But before you do, perhaps you feel the need to get a golden glow from a tanning bed so you don’t look too pale when you hit the beach. If you frequent the a tanning salon, or even go year-round, you can maintain a beautiful bronzed body, but you may also have some more serious issues at hand than simply doing damage to your skin.
What is a Tanning Addiction?
It may sound silly, but there are numerous studies and research that indicate that it is possible to be addicted to tanning. A paper published online by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that females were far more likely to have an addiction to tanning than males were. Additionally, the study found that there were other conditions that were associated with a tanning addiction in a large number of those studied. The two most commonly associated behaviors that were observed among tanning addicts were some measures of obsessive-compulsive behaviors and body dysmorphic behaviors.
Resveralife came across an article posted by the Skin Cancer Foundation which stated that tanning addicts display both physical and psychological dependence behaviors with regards to tanning. When something causes physical dependency, the body goes through the process of cravings, withdrawals and an increase in tolerance to the addictive stimuli. A psychological dependence deals with your brain’s rewards system.
Frequent tanning is also associated with unhealthy practices such as smoking, alcohol use, illicit drug use and eating disorders. In addition to these increased behavioral risks, tanning also is linked to higher incidences of premature aging, sun damage and skin cancer.
What Causes a Tanning Addiction?
Here is where the research gets a bit unclear. There are certainly known risk factors that contribute to possible tanning addictions. One possible factor in a tanning addiction is the release of endorphins when tanning. Exposure to UV light is known to release endorphins which are opiod-like chemicals in the brain. These chemicals increase feelings of general happiness, increased mood and even relieve pain. This process, the relief of pain and positive emotions is the same cycle responsible for other chemical dependencies such as alcohol or drugs.
What You Can Do
As with any addiction, prevention of an addiction is easier than treatment of an addiction. Dermatologists suggest public education on the dangers of tanning beginning in early childhood. Educational information should also be directed at parents and other caregivers on how to stay safe in the sun, and how to avoid tanning.
If you already think that you may have a tanning addiction, not all hope is lost. The first thing you should do is cancel any subscription-type services at your tanning salon. Not having advanced paid tanning sessions makes it easier to avoid hitting the tanning beds. Next, address the issue of endorphins through other activities. Experts suggest tanning addicts engage in some exercise when a desire to tan attacks. Exercise is a healthy source of endorphins. Lastly, if you absolutely need to be bronze, check out self-tanning products to give you the glow without the damage.