[What nosographic framework for excessive tanning?].Encephale 2014; 40(2):174-9E
Socially valorised tanning, like other forms of behaviour, can take on an addictive aspect. Excessive tanning, defined by the presence of impulsivity and repetition of tanning that leads to personal distress, is a psychiatric disorder that has only recently been recognized. This finding is based on the observations of many dermatologists who report an addictive relationship in their patients with tanning cabins despite announcement of the diagnosis of malignant melanoma.
This article attempts to synthesize the existing literature on excessive tanning and addiction to investigate possible associations. This review focuses on the prevalence, clinical features, aetiology, and treatment of this disorder.
The literature review was conducted from 1983 to 2012, using PubMed, Google Scholar, EMBASE, and PsycInfo, using the following keywords alone or combined: Tanning, Addiction, Sunbeds, Skin cancer prevention, and Treatment. We investigated different models to determine how excessive tanning met these criteria.
Excessive Tanning was described in the 2000s by an American dermatologist, Carolyn Heckman. Wartham et al. were the first to have proposed a theoretical framework for addiction to sunbathing, as well as two scales (m CAGE and m DSM IV) for the diagnosis and to assess the degree of addiction. These diagnostic criteria describe the craving like-symptoms, the feeling of losing control, or the continuation of the behavior despite knowledge of negative consequences. Excessive Tanning is not present in the classifications of the DSM or ICD, but may be related to Addiction, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Impulse control disorders, Anorexia, or Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Excessive tanning can be included in the spectrum of behavioural addictions due its clinical characteristics in common with classics addictive disorders. They are a variety of other models, which may offer an explanation for or insight into tanning behaviour. Further studies must be controlled, notably on clinical psychopathology, neurobiology and management to improve our understanding of excessive tanning.