Why You Shouldn't Try Perineum Sunning

It's riskier than you think.

A few "wellness" trends involving genitals have popped up on the internet, from sitting over a pot of boiling water as a method of steaming the vagina to sticking jade eggs into your vagina to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Another trend to add to that list is "perineum sunning." It's the act of a person exposing their perineum (the region between the genitals and anus) to sunlight. But is it a good practice to add to your wellness routine?

Here's what you should know about why perineum sunning became popular, as well as the supposed health benefits and the safety of the practice.

What Made the Idea of Perineum Sunning Popular?

Perineum sunning became popular through social media in October 2019 as a method of self-care. According to one article published in 2021 in JMIR Dermatology, researchers reported that it only took 24 hours for the practice to become mainstream.

The researchers also noted that on Instagram, users indicated that the practice would "improve focus, augment hormonal regulation, increase libido, regulate circadian rhythm, and enhance health and longevity." 

The posts also mentioned that in doing perineum sunning, you do not need sunscreen. They also equated 30 seconds of the practice to receiving a full day's amount of exposure to the sun.

What Are the Dangers of Perineum Sunning?

The perineum is a super-thin area of skin and tissue between the vagina or penis and the anus. However, you shouldn't be exposing it to sunlight.

"As a dermatologist, I cannot recommend any sun exposure without sun protection," Nazanin Saedi, MD, department co-chair of the Laser and Aesthetics Surgery Center at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting in Pennsylvania, told Health. "These areas just like other areas of the body do need sun protection and clothing tends to provide that."

Additionally, according to the 2021 JMIR Dermatology study, skin exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays increases your risk of skin cancer. And skin cancer that develops in less visible areas, like the perineum, typically has worse outcomes than others.

"It's actually dangerous," explained David E. Bank, MD, founder and director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "This skin is particularly sensitive."

Overall, you'd be better off not attempting the activity.

Other Methods To Support Your Well-Being

So, no scientific evidence supports that perineum sunning promotes any sort of well-being. In fact, it's dangerous to your health. Instead, you can attain support regarding your overall health through other safer options like "relaxing, meditation, and mindfulness," noted Dr. Saedi. 

Per the American Heart Association (AHA), try some of the following options if you're looking to indulge in a bit of self-care:

  • Spending time alone or with a pet
  • Getting fresh air with a walk outside
  • Unplugging from social media
  • Talking with friends

Additionally, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), other activities that could be beneficial for your health include:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating well
  • Staying hydrated
  • Aiming for quality sleep
  • Focusing on positivity 

A Quick Review

Although perineum sunning quickly became popular on social media, scientific research and healthcare providers warned against the trend. The perineum is a sensitive area of your body that, when exposed to the sun, raises your risk of developing skin cancer.

If you're truly worried about your vitamin D intake, you may want to consider taking a vitamin—not totally exposing yourself to the sun. 

"The recommended amount of vitamin D is easy to get from a healthy diet or supplements," Anna Karp, DO, a clinical professor of dermatology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York, told Health.

And whenever you do end up in sunlight, you'll want to abide by guidelines recommended by the Food and Drug Administration, including:

  • Spend a minimal amount of time in the sun
  • Use sunscreen for protection, preferably one labeled "broad spectrum" with a minimum SPF of at least 30 
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more 
  • Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun
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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ottwell R, Hartwell M, Beswick T, et al. Public interest in a potentially harmful, non–evidence-based “wellness” practice: cross-sectional analysis of perineum sunningJMIR Dermatology. 2021;4(1):e24124. doi: 10.2196/24124

  2. American Heart Association. Self-care isn't selfish infographic.

  3. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Caring for your mental health.

  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Sunscreen: How to help protect your skin from the sun.

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