We all like to look healthy, and how we look on the outside can reflect on how we feel on the inside. The post- holiday glow is a much sought after look by many individuals, in particular young women, who feel more attractive when sporting a deep bronzed tan. The sun has that instant feel good factor; we become more relaxed, feel less inhibited and generally just feel happier.

But at what cost would you risk to get the prefect tan and maintain it?

Like anything in life that produces a feel good factor, there is the potential for an individual with addictive tendencies to become addicted to it, and that includes tanning! Despite the beauty industry’s efforts to encouraging safer tanning and fake tanning, there has been little impact on the number of regular tanners. Some individuals come to rely on the bodies chemicals that UV light exposure produces. They feel under pressure to look a certain way and only feel attractive if their skin is glowing and tanned. Their dependence can be a real addiction, where their obsession counteracts the risks associated with regular tanning. They will go to extremes to ensure they hold on to their tan through the winter months, and top it up in the summer with regular sun beds. Some even inject tan boosting chemicals and use tan accelerators with a very low SPF (sun protection factor). Often times tanning addiction is linked to anorexia and other eating disorders.

The Risks

Regular tanning using indoor tanning booths is particularly risky with a 74 percent more chance of the individual developing skin melanoma (Cancer) which is a fatal disease if left untreated, than someone who has never tanned indoors. Yet to someone who is addicted to tanning, this alarming statistic is unlikely to deter them from their tanning fix. It is easy to dismiss someone who risks their health for an all year round tan as perhaps being vain or ignorant, but the reality is that they may well be suffering from an addiction. That being the case, they may need some professional help and counselling to help them break the habit and address the issues underpinning the addiction. At its worst they may even be in need of a period in a rehabilitation centre, abstaining from tanning and receiving intensive therapy. There are some very extreme cases out there and the thought of rehabilitation to address such an addiction probably hasn’t even entered their mind.

Treating Tanning Addiction

The treatment for a tanning addiction is much like any other addiction. If the person is unable to control their obsession to tan, professional addiction therapy can prove very useful in helping the individual to recover. It is likely that their issues are more than just skin deep. If you have concerns about a loved one, or you are addicted to tanning, please call our helpline for advice on how to overcome this risky and life threatening addiction