What is Tanorexia or Tanning Addiction?, the Harsh Truth!

Table of Contents

What is Tanorexia?

Perhaps because of a concept or ideal of beauty based on certain prejudices, there are those who believe that having brown or tanned skin is the best.

That is why they have a very marked obsession to show it off and persist in doing so. 

Although in reality that may represent damage to health, and in some severe cases, such as skin cancer.

What is tanorexia?

Tanorexia can be categorized as a psychological illness or disorder.

Which consists of an exaggerated need to be exposed to the sun's rays or in UVA sunbeds.

A subtype of ultraviolet rays, to keep the skin tanned or with a dark tone, without ever reaching the full satisfaction of that purpose.

Tanorexia Symptoms

Like any obsession that has all the characteristics of a pathology.

This type of obsession is visible in those who suffer from visible symptoms and that allows it to be included in a definition.

Even though their manifestations have not been accurately described.


  • Excessive tanning without agreeing with the tone you already have.
  • Neglect of daily activities or commitments by preferring to be exposed to the sun or the rays of the UVA sunbeds.
  • Excessive preoccupation to preserve the color of the acquired skin, which leads to go too often to places where they are exposed to the sun or tanning centers.
  • Anxiety or anxiety at the thought of the absence of that longed-for tone of skin, to the point of losing appetite.
  • Remarkable early aging due to dryness and roughness of the skin.
  • States of anguish or stress of not having the possibility of being exposed to the sun or the artificial tanning process.
  • Remarkable acquisition of a skin color very different from the one naturally had.

Associated problems

The problems associated with tanorexia are the same as those faced with other types of addictions such as alcohol, drugs, or tobacco.

In fact, it's cataloged as an addiction like the ones already mentioned.

This is because it produces symptoms and behaviors similar to or equal to those addictions, with their corresponding and serious consequences.

Exaggerated exposure to the sun or ultraviolet rays leads to a very high risk of skin cancer, or at least certain types of eye injuries.

For example, macular degeneration or cataracts, burns, actinic keratitis or burning of the ocular surface, marked inhibition or weakness of the immune system, among the most evident.

Is Tanorexia an addiction?


We insist that tanorexia can be classified as a form of addiction.

This is because the simple fact of being exposed to the sun provokes the secretion of endorphins, which generate a sensation of pleasure and well-being.

As well as some intense physical activities or the consumption of some substances that cause obsessive disorders in the person.

Already considered a psychological disorder, it usually occurs in women and men between the ages of 15 and 35.

That is why it is considered a type of dysmorphic disorder, which means an excessive concern for a real or imaginary physical defect.

This implies that overexposure to the sun or UVA rays is usually done without any type of precaution that avoids damage to the skin or to health in general.

And like any addiction, having a tanned body generates an abstinence syndrome because you are never satisfied with the desired color or as much as you want.

Hence, there are states of dissatisfaction and anxiety, coupled with a permanent comparison with other people in terms of the appearance of the skin is concerned.

But since everything bad or whatever looks like it has its good, tanorexia is no exception.


Tanorexia Treatments

treatments to tan addiction

As in any case of other types of addiction, tanorexics must recognize it and accept the help of a specialist.

The combined action of a psychiatrist or psychologist, as well as a dermatologist, is formally recommended.

As this is a very specific disorder that does not appear to be so, the diagnosis is usually based on physical damage that is beginning to become evident or is already evident.

Going to a specialist

From the moment the affected person acknowledges that he or she has tanorexia, he or she has to see a specialist.

This will make an assessment to pinpoint the point that this psychological disorder has reached and consequently initiate treatment.

The most indicated therapies in this respect begin by working the psychological part of the person.

They also work on self-esteem and on opening the doors of a real perception of your body and reality.

In some cases, treatment based on drugs such as anxiolytics or antidepressants may be necessary.

That will depend on the degree of tanning or tanorexia addiction.

Environment support

In this process, the participation of the people who make up the environment of the affected woman or man is very important.

And they can do so by reinforcing core values of life that go far beyond fashion or mere appearance and that beauty is not a certain type of physical appearance.

As far as physical damage is concerned, specialists in integral beauty.

The one that conjugates training, nutrition, health norms, and the assistance of jointly with a dermatologist, will prescribe what in these cases is required.


Tanorexia represents a very high risk of getting skin cancer in any form.

Therefore, it is necessary to start immediately with the application of creams and tonics that moisturize and recover elasticity.

And of course, avoid excessive recurrence to sun exposure and much less to UVA sunbeds.

As soon as you feel or perceive that tanorexia prevails over any other circumstance or need, seeking the support and advice of those who gather punctual knowledge in skincare should be the first choice.

Nothing will be better than the opinion of specialists who offer the best way to overcome what can go from prejudice to pathology with serious consequences that nobody wants to go through.

Here is an impressive video of the BBC about tanning addiction.