02/07/2015 06:52 BST | Updated 20/07/2015 07:59 BST

'Sunburn Art' Trend Could Increase Risk Of Skin Cancer, Dermatologists Warn

Most of us know that sunburn is potentially dangerous to our health, but that hasn't stopped some people ditching suncream in a bid to follow the latest trend.

People are applying suncream to their skin in "artistic" shapes, then allowing the surrounding skin to burn in order to create so called #sunburnart.

But dermatologists have warned against the trend, saying that sunburn art can increase an individual's chance of developing skin cancer and cause premature ageing to the skin.

In addition to using tactfully placed suncream to create the designs, sunbathers are placing temporary tattoos on their skin and using them as a stencil for their sunburn art.

"This is where popular culture is clashing with medical advice," Dr Barney Kenet, a New York-based dermatologist told ABC News.

"It’s really obvious that sunburn does two things to you: it gives you lines and freckles and wrinkles and it also causes skin cancer, especially melanoma."

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Dermatologist Elizabeth Hale has also spoken out against the trend.

"What's so scary about this sunburn art is they're often being done on areas that are usually protected," she told PEOPLE.

"Areas that are exposed everyday – like the face, the neck, the back of the hand – get a low level of sun exposure daily. But people are exposing areas of their body that have been covered year round.

"It's as if more virginal skin is getting this intense sun exposure, which all of the data show is much more dangerous than chronic sun exposure."

The trend has received so much media attention that Deborah S. Sarnoff, the Skin Cancer Foundation’s senior vice president, has now released the organisation’s official position on sunburn art:

"The Skin Cancer Foundation strongly advises the public to avoid sunburns at all costs. A sunburn is not only painful – it’s dangerous, and comes with consequences.

"Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin ageing, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk. 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.

Blogging on HuffPost UK Lifestyle, health writer Petra Kravos warns against the dangers of sunburn, also claiming that "getting sunburn doubles your risk of getting the deadliest skin cancer, melanoma".

She adds: "Be kind to your body, don't let it burn in the sun and increase your chances of getting a skin cancer. Your body and skin health is precious, so treat it like that."

Kravos recommends using a good quality, high protection suncream, avoiding direct sunlight between the hours of 11am and 3pm and applying suncream even when it's cloudy in order to avoid sunburn.


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