Sunburn Tatoos

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sunburn_tattooIf you’re a follower of social media, you’ve no doubt noticed a growing and disturbing fad called sunburn tattoos which involves applying sunscreen in the shape of an image or pattern, either freehand or with the help of a stencil, then exposing the body to the sun without any additional sun protection. While the end result can be visually stunning, what’s even more stunning is that, despite the reams of information available regarding the dangers of unprotected sun exposure, people continue to put themselves at risk for long-term detrimental health effects.

The popularity of this trend has prompted the Skin Cancer Foundation to adopt an official position on sunburn art. Basically, don’t.

Encouraging sun damage for the sake of “art” results in more than just red skin. Serious sunburns can go beyond general discomfort resulting in skin that’s hot and sensitive to the touch. This can often lead to blistering, fainting, fever, chills and nausea that require medical attention. In fact, research has shown that experiencing five or more sunburns doubles a person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Additional consequences of unprotected sun exposure include premature signs of aging, wrinkles, skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation.

Although doctors, health professionals and scientists still cannot conclusively determine what is considered a “safe” amount of sun exposure, it’s a sure bet that getting a sunburn tattoo grossly exceeds any possible limit. A better idea? Applying a spray tan over a paper template.

While a sunburn tattoo may be temporary, the sun damage and increased risk of melanoma and skin cancer that accompany it definitely are not. All I can think when I see images of sunburn tattoos is: Ouch!

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