People are getting sunburnt on purpose to create temporary 'tattoos'

Danielle Fowler
Freelance Writer
A social media sunburn tattoo trend has gone viral [Photo: Getty]

It’s a trend those of us who slap on factor 50 suncream for a British heatwave will never understand but a number of people are creating sunburn tattoos this summer.

The social media-driven fad, which has been going strong since 2015, encourages sun worshippers to use stencils while catching rays.

Once they’ve sufficiently burned, the design will appear courtesy of their chosen stencil thus creating a semi-permanent ‘tattoo’.

A simple search of Instagram hashtags such as #sunburnart and #sunburntattoo drags up hundreds of disturbing images, as users compete to deliver the most liked designs.

One social media user decided to create the famous Batman motif across his chest back in 2015 while another opted for a dreamcatcher on their leg.

READ MORE: The best sunburn remedies that will change your life

But a number of dermatologists have warned against the dangers of the trend with the increased risk of developing skin cancer.

“Both UVA and UVB [rays] can cause harmful effects on the skin,” dermatologic surgeon, Dr Mary Stevenson, told New York Post.

“Ultraviolet causes damages to cellular DNA with UVB damaging the basal layer of your skin predominantly and UVA penetrating deeper and also causing damage which can ultimately result in skin cancer,” Stevenson continued. “Blistering sunburns in particular, which result from intense ultraviolet exposure, are known risk factors for causing cancer.”

How to protect yourself from sunburn this summer

According to the NHS, there is no “safe or healthy way” to achieve a tan therefore it’s essential to practice sun protection wherever your are in the world.

In the UK, the most vital time to source shade is between 11am and 3pm from March to October.

When it comes to purchasing suncream, it’s important to ensure that the bottle has at least a four-star UVA protection label.

But you might need to check last summer’s bottle is still in date, as most sunscreens have a shelf life of just two to three years.

READ MORE: Why you should apply suncream to your eyelids

How to treat sunburn

If you fall victim to the sun’s rays this summer, whether home or abroad, the NHS recommends a number of ways to handle any discomfort:

  • Make sure to get out of the sun as soon as possible

  • Cool your skin with a cold shower, bath or damp towel

  • Apply aftersun cream or a spray such as aloe vera

  • Drink plenty of water to cool down and prevent dehydration

  • Take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain

  • Cover sunburnt skin from direct sunlight until skin has fully healed

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