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Are You A Tanning Addict?

Living though skin damage from years ago is part of why I wish we had known about the real dangers of skin damage from the sun.

Women Tanning and risking skin cancer

What is your excuse for tanning? With what we know about how dangerous tanning is for your skin? How do you feel about tanning?

Could you develop an addiction to tanning?

As the mom of two daughters who are paying for their tanning addition from years ago, I know what can happen. Yes, I have a definite opinion of the dangers of indulging in the practice of tanning. I am realizing with surprise that tanning salons are still operating in the face of the information we have.

Even knowing how dangerous tanning beds are for our skin, people still go there.

As a bit of surprise, I am learning that there are actually withdrawal symptoms from tanning for those who have the addiction, just as there are with drug and alcohol addictions. So yes, this is a serious situation, and addressing this condition is important. You only have one skin.

Your Skin Needs To Stay Healthy

Sure this skin of ours heals itself and sheds dead cells, producing new healthy ones, but that is only if it is healthy. How can your skin stay healthy with so much overexposure to the sun or a tanning booth?

Have you forgotten that your skin is your body sock? It keeps your bones and vital organs and flesh all in the right place to be safe. Helping you with a healthy life.

I don’t think that your self-image is actually as important as an organ. However, for too many people, when there is addictive behavior, you are making your heart and other body organs take a back seat to your tan. You are not your tan.

Keeping your body at the right temperature is just a part of what your skin does. When you have overexposed your skin to the UV rays from the sun or tanning booth, you are damaging the ability of your skin to regulate your body’s temperature.

You may not be able to sweat or you may not be able to stay warm. Are you the one in a sweater when others are comfortable?

Compulsive tanning does fit the definition of a behavioral addiction as well. Once anything becomes an addiction, we enter a deeper layer that our addictive behavior will affect.

As with other behavioral addictions, the person with the addictive behavior has to take responsibility for the actions, and want to change.

How To Recognize Your Addictive Tanning Behavior

As with other stumbling blocks in our own behavior causing problems in our life, awareness is important. Do you have some concerns you have tanning addiction?

See if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself:

  • You are out getting a tan every chance you get, rarely using sunscreen or sun blocking clothing.
  • A good bit of your free time is spent in the sun, and your are careful to not go into the shade.
  • For being outside you make sure to dress so that you don’t have too many tan lines. Exposing shoulders, arms, neck and face.
  • You never reapply sunscreen during a day in the sun.
  • If you have children, you will often make sure they are in the shade and have skin protection, but deliberately stay out in the sun yourself.
  • Do you go to different salons so no one is aware of how often you tan?
  • Is your winter tan plan the same as summer time?

There are many more symptoms of addictive behavior. Like smoking and alcohol and drug addiction, tanning is also a behavior addiction. This makes it easy to become chronic without you being aware of it.

Treatments For A Tanning Addiction

The treatment of a tanning addiction is an important part of the issue to consider. As a behavioral addiction, a person with a tanning addiction feels it is a character flaw, once they realize that there is an addiction. They attempt to treat it themselves. Rarely is this successful.

Please don’t take this lightly. When I see what my daughters and son go through when they have the skin cancers appear. Yes, some are pre-cancerous cells. But often there are actual skin cancers removed from the head, ears, nose, face, lips, shoulders, arms, hands, backs, legs, and upper throat. If there has been one removed from a foot, I don’t remember that.

I do remember the sores that have to heal. The scars keep showing up. Along with the miserable times, the healing of these surgery sites on their bodies.

Some Symptoms

Making yourself aware of some of the symptoms can help change this behaviour:

  • The reasons for craving a tan may not even be in your conscious awareness. This is common for addictive behavior.
  • Professional help may be required as often the addict is unsure themselves of the actual trigger for the desire for tanning.
  • Tanning addiction is like a food addiction. Because the world we live in includes sunshine, there are many hidden triggers that will cause you to go back to the sun’s damaging behavior.
  • When tanning reaches addiction, there can be an image issue for the addict. Self-image treatment will respond but often needs extra help.
  • Treatment will help with a tanning addiction, and there can be some help for your skin. A good dermatologist is important if have overdone your tan. If you have done this for too many years, you will need help learning new ways to cope with your urge for a tan.
  • Most people have to have a real scare to be ready to change their behavior. Don’t let that be you. Stop tanning and start protecting your skin.

Few people really understand their addiction. If you know about someone who is indanger, encourage that person to get help. This can be dangerous for that persons skin.

Sun Protection For Your Family

Most of the time, tanning addiction occurs mid-teens to mid-twenties. More often, about three times as often for females as males, are in the addiction phase of this popular tanning issue.

Females are more apt to become excessive tanners as a fashion trend. However, males also are swept up in the tanning world as well.

Bodybuilding is a hobby/profession where tanning is still a practice. Fortunately, education and improving methods of artificial tan have been helpful.

More females are choosing to have a spray tan for their vacation instead of trying to develop a tan once they are there. A much safer option for better skin health.

Most people will, by the time they are 35, begin to realize the dangers of too much tan time. However, if someone is tanning excessively at any age, help them know that this can be dangerous. Don’t sit idly by. Encourage your family to protect their skin.

Teaching your kids to be responsible for their skin is also a part of breaking the old tan worship we all had.

Reaching the maturity level to realize that few really notice anything but extremes is an important part of becoming our own person.

Depending on others for our sense of well-being has by now become less important. Unless all of your friends also have a tan addiction.

Peer Pressure

How many times have you did your Mom ask you, “If all your friends jump off the bridge, does that mean you have to?” (Or some similar question)

We are all subject to peer pressure. If all your friends are getting tans, either in the sun or in a tanning salon, the pull is there for you to tan as well.

How often do your high school friends influence your nail polish color? For guys, if one of the guys wears some sort of jewelry, more will try the idea out. I personally think this is a good thing because it seems harmless to try something new.

However, tanning isn’t harmless. Tanning carries a longer-lasting effect. Just as experimenting with alcohol or drugs can become something you can’t control.

Your awareness of your ability to resist peer pressure starts young. The stronger your advocate for safe health practices for yourself, the less you will deal with addiction issues.

Talk to your kids, from an early age about the importance of protecting their skin from the sun. Explain that ” in our family, we are caring for our skin.” Help your kids develop a way to protect their skin from the sun for life.

How can you help your family?

Learn How To Protect Your Skin
Sami’s Take On “Are You A Tanning Addict?

In our world with so much information readily available the messages often fall on deaf ears. Helping people who have a tan addiction can be tricky.

As I said earlier, a few years ago while my family was busy tanning in salons or at the beach. Or maybe guiding rafting trips down the rivers, camping out for weeks on end. No, they paid little heed to warnings. We all learned too late. My family will be battling skin cancers for the rest of their lives.

Wish we could do it all over differently. Of course. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option.

Do we practice safer skin protection now? Most certainly. We are all careful, and careful with the grandkids. They don’t know, but we do. Even young kids can understand how to help themselves. Making sure we model good skin protection in the sun is important.

As we now know about sunblocking hats, sunglasses, sun blocking shirts, and sunscreen. The rest breaks in the shade. We know about planning more activities in the less intense sun hours. Before 10 AM and after 4 PM. Yes, we are wiser.

Tan addictions are something we should all be on the watch for. When you see one of your family begin to “forget” to use sunscreen. Or not wear their sun blocking hat or shirt. Find out if it is because the shirt and hat aren’t comfortable or, does it keep their skin too safe.

You now know the signs. Stay aware.

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