Warning Over Sunburn 'Tattoo' Trend

Medically Reviewed by Rob Hicks, MD on July 09, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

July 9, 2015 -- Doctors are warning of a dangerous new craze called "sunburn art" that's said to be growing in popularity among young people.

People expose parts of their bodies to the sun without using any sun protection. The result is a sunburn in the shape of a particular image, design, or pattern.

Some of the results have been posted on social media sites such as Instagram.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has issued a warning about the dangers of sunburn. Apart from being painful, too much sun can cause DNA damage to the skin, speed up skin aging, and raise your risk of eventually getting skin cancer.

“Sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent,” says Deborah Sarnoff, MD, Skin Cancer Foundation vice president, in a statement. “On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.”

The foundation recommends you use sunscreen and protective clothing, and stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. The foundation says more than 3.5 million cases in 2 million people are diagnosed annually.