The case of Patricia Krentcil, the mother accused of taking her five-year-old daughter to a tanning salon, has not only had an impact by shocking society, but has shed a light on an illness called tanorexia, an addiction to tan skin.
Krentcil, 44, was arrested and charged with second-degree child endangerment in New Jersey on Wednesday after her daughter Anna suffered from a burn which the child said was from indoor tanning. Known as the tanning mom, Krentcil was released on $25,000 bail and faces up to 10 years in prison if she is convicted.
Soon after the case became public, Krentcil's bronzed face appeared on broadcast news reports, websites and newspapers in photos across the country shedding light on the controversial phenomenon called tanorexia when people become dependent and addicted to tanning.
When you look at this, this is somebody who has a problem who most likely has a condition called tanerexia, where they just don't realize just how much color they have, New York dermatologist Doris Day told ABC News.
I'm very tan and I've been tanning my whole life, Krentcil said.
The owner of City Tropics tanning salon in Nutley, N.J. told ABC News that Krentcil tans on average five days a week for the maximum 12 minute session in a standup booth for $100 per month unlimited plan.
This amount of tanning, according to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, is actually considered an addiction.
In all my years of treating patients as a dermatologist, I have never encountered anything like this, Zeichner told the New York Daily News. Going to a tanning salon 20 times a month, frankly, is insane.
According to the Skin Care Foundation, those who use indoor tanning equipment are four times more likely to develop melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, than those who don't, as sunbeds give off 12 to 15 times more UV radiation than the sun. However Zeichner said that though facts about the dangers of tanning beds and skin cancer are readily available to all, some people -- like Krentcil -- suffer from body dysmorphic disorders, which is when someone looks at their appearance and is always unhappy.
Patients like this are constantly having elective cosmetic procedures - either surgeries, laser treatments or Botox and fillers, Zeichner said, which also includes those who are addicted to tan skin.
A study by scientists at University of Texas' Southwestern Medical Center released in 2011 stated that those who suffer from tanning addiction, commonly referred to as tanorexia, actually are similar to those addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Certain regions of the brain we know are responsible, partially responsible for drug and alcohol addiction seem to have increased blood flow when you put UV [ultraviolet] light in front of these individuals who are known for frequent tanning, Dr. Charles Samenow, a psychiatrist and professor at George Washington University, told ABC News in August.
The study, published in Addiction Biology, UV light actually increases addictive tendencies, which can account for the 30 million Americans that tan indoors every year and the one million who tan daily.
Some, like Sophie Balk of The Children's Hospital in Motefiore, New York, even say that the concept of tanning for some, has internal effects -- as well as the external effect they affix themselves on - for people that stirs addiction.
Some tanners describe that they feel more relaxed, Balk told NJ.com. Some people even experience withdrawal symptoms.
Balk's remarks are paired with studies by researchers that show those who are described as addicted to tanning receive a rush of dopamine, which transmits a sense of well-being into the brain, from tanning and can even feel depression or anxiety if away from the sun or indoor tanning beds.
However, in the case of Patricia Krentcil, she and her lawyer John Caruso maintain that Krentcil is not addicted to tanning and should not judge or portray her as a bad person.
To call her an addict, I think is a real leap. It feels like it's being exaggerated, to be like, 'Well look at her, she must have done this,' Caruso told ABC News, adding that people should stop judging her by the way she looks.