Some sunbathers are searching for more than a golden glow in a new social media trend that's baffling dermatologists, cancer experts and other clinicians.
It's called “sunburn art”—designs created on the skin by applying sunscreen or another sun barrier in a chosen pattern while basking in the sun and leaving the rest of the skin unprotected. Search Twitter for the #sunburnart hashtag and you will see a Batman symbol burned across one man's chest and an elaborate floral design spanning the back of another, among many other examples.
For years, health officials have warned that UV radiation, whether from natural or artificial sources, can be damaging to the skin, leading to burns, wrinkles, dark spots, leathery skin and cancer.
Many are disturbed by the trend. There is no reason to significantly increase the risk of a life-threatening skin cancer on purpose, dermatologist Dr. Thomas Rohrer told CBS News. “It would be far safer to do this with a spray tan or self-tanning cream,” he said.
The Skin Cancer Foundation even issued a position statement, which basically said, “Don't do it!” On social media, where many of the images have surfaced, that translates to: “OMG,” “WTF” and “SMH.”
One clinician tweeted the trend as a good candidate for the Darwin Awards.
That's a website that salutes “the improvement of the human gene pool by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it.”