At-Home Tanning Bed Users More Likely to Be Addicted

A woman lays on a tanning bed.
(Image credit: dotshock/

About one in 13 people who tan indoors use their own tanning beds in the home, a new study finds. And people who use at-home tanning beds are more likely to have a tanning addiction, compared with those who get their indoor tan outside the home, according to the study.

In the study, published today (Sept. 21) in the journal JAMA Dermatology, the researchers surveyed nearly 800 people about their indoor tanning habits and evaluated the people for tanning addictions.

Of the 636 people in the survey who said they had tanned indoors at least once, 170 people, or just over a quarter, said that they had used a tanning bed in a home at least once, the researchers, led by Dr. Vinayak Nahar, a doctoral candidate at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, found. [7 Beauty Trends That Are Bad for Your Health]

Just 44 people, however, said that an at-home tanning bed was their primary way to tan, according to the study. People who used tanning beds in the home were just about split on whether they owned the tanning bed or used a friend's or family member's tanning bed.

The researchers found that people who primarily use at-home tanning beds were demographically similar, for the most part, to those who primarily use tanning beds outside the home (such as at a tanning salon): On average, the people in both groups were in their mid-30s, and the majority were white, for example.

However, at-home tanning-bed users tanned more frequently than those who didn't use a tanning bed in a home; at-home tanning bed users reported about 9 more tanning sessions a year than those who used tanning beds elsewhere, the researchers found.

To determine if a person had a tanning addiction, the researchers used a 7-point questionnaire called the Behavioral Addiction Indoor Tanning Screener that included evaluations of a person's urge to tan and feelings of diminished control. People who got a score of 2 or higher on the screener were considered to have a tanning addiction, according to the study. At-home tanning-bed users had an average score of 3.5, compared with people who used tanning beds outside the home, who had an average score of 1.8, the study found.

The researchers also looked at why people use tanning beds at home. The biggest reasons were that people didn't have to wait in line and could tan for free, the results showed.

Though only 44 people said they regularly use at-home tanning beds, a total of 72 people said that they had tanning beds in their homes, according to the study. Nearly half of the people with tanning beds at home said they allow nonfamily members to use the beds, and about one-third of the people said they charge others money to use the beds.

The vast majority of tanning-bed owners said they clean the beds after every use, and a similar number said that they regularly change the beds' lightbulbs. However, only 22 percent said that they had the tanning beds professionally inspected, the researchers found.

Tanning beds are known to cause skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the deadliest form of the disease. The researchers suggested that at-home tanning could be specifically targeted for skin cancer prevention efforts.

Originally published on Live Science.

Sara G. Miller
Staff Writer
Sara is a staff writer for Live Science, covering health. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York. When she's not writing, she can be found at the library, checking out a big stack of books.