Phenomenology and psychopathology of excessive indoor tanning

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Excessive indoor tanning, defined by the presence of an impulse towards and repetition of tanning that leads to personal distress, has only recently been recognized as a psychiatric disorder. This finding is based on the observations of many dermatologists who report the presence of addictive relationships with tanning salons among their patients despite being given diagnoses of malignant melanoma. This article synthesizes the existing literature on excessive indoor tanning and addiction to investigate possible associations. This review focuses on the prevalence, clinical features, etiology, and treatment of this disorder. A literature review was conducted, using PubMed, Google Scholar, EMBASE and PsycINFO, to identify articles published in English from 1974 to 2013. Excessive indoor tanning may be related to addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, impulse control disorder, seasonal affective disorder, anorexia, body dysmorphic disorder, or depression. Excessive indoor tanning can be included in the spectrum of addictive behavior because it has clinical characteristics in common with those of classic addictive disorders. It is frequently associated with anxiety, eating disorders, and tobacco dependence. Further controlled studies are required, especially in clinical psychopathology and neurobiology, to improve our understanding of excessive indoor tanning.

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