Hazardous sunburn art trend popular on social media

An increasing number of people are using sunscreen to make sunburn art.
An increasing number of people are using sunscreen to make sunburn art.

HealthDay News — Experts are speaking out against "sunburn art," a new social media trend in which people use stencils or strategically applied sunblock to create a do-it-yourself temporary sunburn tattoo on their bodies.

The "art" is created by exposing certain parts of the body to the sun without using proper sun protection. Participants then take pictures of their creations and post them on sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The trend is worrisome enough that the Skin Cancer Foundation has issued an official position on sunburn art, warning of the health risks associated with tanned or sunburned skin. "Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin aging, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk," the statement reads. "In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80%. On average, a person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns."

Deborah Sarnoff, MD, senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation, told HealthDay that people tend to underestimate the health hazards of sunburns. "People may think this is creative or a new art form, but the fact remains that sunburns are terribly dangerous, and I don't think the average person on the street understands that to this day," she said. "There's really no such thing as a healthy tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin."

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