Persistent tanning despite potentially fatal consequences suggests a compulsive behavior similar to other addictive disorders.
To review the literature supporting tanning addiction from an epidemiological, behavioral, and neurobiological perspective.
A comprehensive review of the medical literature was conducted to assess the health consequences of tanning, behaviors and other psychiatric disorders associated with tanning, and central rewarding effects of ultraviolet light.
Many frequent tanners endorse signs and symptoms adapted from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV (DSM IV) substance abuse or dependence criteria. Recent studies suggest biochemical mechanisms may reinforce ultraviolet light seeking behavior.
Frequent and persistent tanning may reveal itself to be a dermatologic-psychiatric disorder with carcinogenic sequelae. Multidisciplinary studies are required to determine the validity of an addiction diagnosis and to explore pharmacologic and cognitive therapeutic options for affected persons.