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Sunburn tattoo trend increases risk of deadly skin cancers

Publish date: 05/08/2015

Tags: Cancer

sun tattoo burn trendNot heard of sunburn tattoos yet? 

 Well, it's a worrying new trend that's suddenly exploded on to social media – and you'd do well to avoid it.

The fad involves applying sun protection creams and lotion to create patterns and shapes burnt into the skin. The so-called ‘sunburn tattoos’ are then photographed and shared on photo-sharing social networks such as Instagram and Twitter.

Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, says the new sunburn art trend is incredibly dangerous.

'Sunburn causes damage to the skin, premature ageing and increases the risk of developing skin cancer,’ warns Dr Mahto. 

‘Five or more sunburns will double your average lifetime risk of developing melanoma. ‘The British Skin Foundation are very concerned about the 'sunburn art' trend.’ 

Types of skin cancer

There are two main types of skin cancer – non-melanoma and melanoma (also known as malignant melanoma). 

Sunburn increases the risk of malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer, which is the second most common cancer in young people (15-34 years old) and the fifth most common cancer in the UK.  

‘Seven people die a day in the UK from skin cancer and rates of malignant melanoma are rising faster than any other common cancer.’

Mr Paul Banwell, consultant plastic surgeon and skin care expert, says: ‘Any form of sunburn signifies significant damage to the skin and we know that such burning episodes are sensitive predictors for future skin cancer formation.’

‘It is okay to enjoy the sun safely, but the message is to avoid sunburn at all costs,’ he adds.

For more information on staying sun safe, please see our guide here and our sunburn factsheet. Read our Malignant melanoma case study. Got a skin related worry? Post a question to our experts.


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