This social media trend may have deadly consequences

1sunburn artJuly 29, 2015—A dangerous new trend has emerged on the summer social media scene: sunburn art.

This type of body art is created by exposing certain parts of the body to the sun without using proper sun protection. The result is a sunburn in the shape of a particular image, design or pattern, and people are sharing photos of them all over the Internet. While the sunburn snapshots may make for a popular Instagram post, the Skin Cancer Foundation spoke out against the trend in a recent press release.

Sunburns are both painful and dangerous, according to the foundation, and the public should avoid them because of the deadly risk they carry. Sunburns not only cause DNA damage and accelerate skin aging—they also increase the lifetime risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, the most deadly type. In fact, getting 5 or more sunburns while young increases a person’s lifetime risk for melanoma by 80 percent.

The foundation recommends adopting a complete daily sun protection regimen to avoid sunburn. This includes:

  • Seeking shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Covering up with clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • Using sunscreen every day. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.


The take-home message
When it comes to sunburns, prevention is the best option. And while a sunburn design may fade with time, the risk of skin cancer does not.

However, if you do get a sunburn, it’s important to know how to treat it. You may harm your skin even more if you handle your burn incorrectly.

This is how you treat a sunburn, according to the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Cool down. Try a cool shower or bath. Or wet clean rags and place them on the burn.
  • Moisturize. Moisturizing cream with aloe vera or soy may soothe unblistered skin. Cortisone creams may help reduce inflammation. But avoid anything containing benzocaine or lidocaine.
  • Let pores breathe. Do not use butter, petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) or other oil-based products. These can block pores so that heat and sweat cannot escape, which can lead to infection.
  • Drink up. Sunburns dry you out, so drink more water than usual to avoid dehydration.
  • Don’t pop blisters. Blisters mean you have a 2nd-degree burn, and popping them can only cause more damage. Let them heal on their own.
  • Try pain relievers. Over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, help to relieve pain from sunburn. Do not give aspirin to kids under 18.
  • Get comfortable. Wear loose cotton clothing.

If you have a fever, call a doctor right away. Also call if you are showing signs of shock, heat exhaustion, dehydration or another serious reaction.


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