Article

Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 129-138

First online:

Tanning in Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  • Katharine A. PhillipsAffiliated withButler HospitalThe Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown Medical SchoolButler Hospital Email author 
  • , Michelle ConroyAffiliated withThe Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown Medical School
  • , Raymond G. DufresneAffiliated withRhode Island HospitalThe Department of Dermatology, Brown Medical School
  • , William MenardAffiliated withButler Hospital
  • , Elizabeth R. DidieAffiliated withButler HospitalThe Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown Medical School
  • , Jennifer Hunter-YatesAffiliated withRhode Island HospitalThe Department of Dermatology, Brown Medical School
  • , Christina FayAffiliated withButler Hospital
  • , Maria PaganoAffiliated withThe Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown Medical School

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Tanning in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) has not previously been studied. In this study, 200 subjects with BDD were evaluated with measures to examine the prevalence of BDD-related tanning—i.e., darkening one's skin color by direct exposure to sunlight or artificial light which is motivated by a desire to improve a perceived appearance defect (i.e., a BDD concern). We also examined clinical characteristics of individuals who engaged in BDD-related tanning. 25% (95% CI, 19.0%–31.0%) of subjects reported BDD-related tanning. Among tanners, the skin was the most common body area of concern (84.0%). All tanners experienced functional impairment due to BDD, 26% had attempted suicide, and quality of life was markedly poor. 52% of tanners had received dermatologic treatment, which was usually ineffective for BDD symptoms. Tanners were more likely than non-tanners to compulsively pick their skin. In conclusion, tanning—a behavior with well-known health risks—is a relatively frequent BDD-related behavior.

KEY WORDS:

body dysmorphic disorder dysmorphophobia tanning somatoform disorder