Tanorexia is a new form of addiction
Tanorexia is the definition of an obsessive desire to acquire and maintain a suntan by natural or artificial method. Since the early 1920’s at home tanning devices were introduced to treat various ailments and are still used as a cure for certain forms of psoriasis and dermatitis. Eighty years later the first tanning salon was opened in the US and according to the last figures, despite the health warning on the dangers of UVR exposure, there are still more than 9000 salons serving about 30 million customers each year. This continuous exposure to a well-known cancer-causing agent suggests there is a mechanism of addiction in place and indeed tanners report well known signals linked to abuse behaviours such as: mood enhancement, relaxation and socialization; like smoking or heavy drinking, obsessive tanning can be perceived as image-enhancing and is difficult to quit.
Dermatologists suspected for years that tanning might be so popular because UV light causes addiction and recent studies support this conclusion. UV light causes endorphins production, feel-good chemicals that relieve pain and generate feelings of well-being, potentially leading to dependency. During a randomized study, frequent tanners were able to distinguish between otherwise identical UV and non-UV light-emitting tanning beds as they perceived their relaxing effects. Obsessive tanners suffer physical dependency till to craving and withdrawal. When treated with naltrexone, a drug that blocks the endorphins production while tanning, they had withdrawal symptoms i.e. nausea and jitteriness.
Some studies suggest that women may be more prone to develop the disorder; smokers have a greater likelihood of developing addiction than do non-smokers. Obese people are less at risk than those who are underweight or normal weight. Individuals suffering some mental illnesses (such as obsessive-compulsive disorder) are more inclined to developing tanorexia than the general population and the ones who started using tanning beds as teenagers or even younger are at high risk of abuse.
As many other addictions tanorexia has serious side effects, photoaging causing wrinkles and leathery skin and primarily a dangerous increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Preventing the addiction is easier than struggling its effect and therefore it is important to appreciate the psychological mechanisms driving the abuse. Most of the people suffering are convinced it enhanced their appearance and attitude, ultimately making them feel better and more energetic.
Spray Tans: There are a lot of options that make easy to get a bronzed glow in a healthy way.
Workout: a sweat session can give the endorphin production offering the same feel good sensation of a tanning session.
Healthy habits: a healthy lifestyle that combines exercise, eating well and drinking plenty of water make feel dynamic and energetic.
Tanning beds ban for young people is key to protect teenagers from the risk of developing a dangerous addiction.