Perineum sunning (aka butthole sunning) is a trendy wellness practice that involves exposing the taint to sunlight. It has no proven benefits and lots of potential health risks.

Ah, perineum sunning. You can do it spread eagle. You can do it happy baby. You can do it doggy style. But should you do it? Hint: The answer is no.

Here’s a deep dive into all things perineum sunning. That includes a long list of the risks and a rundown of safer, more effective alternatives.

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Illustration by Joules Garcia

The perineum is the small area between the genitals and anus. It’s home to lots of nerves and blood vessels that connect to the peen or vagine. Perineum sunning (aka anal sunning) is when you expose this area to direct sunlight.

You might be thinking, why are people sunning the anus? Well, that’s a very good question. We talked to Clare Wightman MS, PA-C, for the inside scoop.

“People are often looking for a quick fix and preferably the ‘natural way,’” says Wightman.

So, when someone sees their fave influencer talking about the benefits of butt tanning, they might be more inclined to try it themselves.

TBH, there are none. But some peeps claim perineum sunning can:

But(t) again, there’s literally no science to back any of these claims up. In fact, perineum sunning will likely do a lot more harm than good.

All sunburns suck but butt burns can get bad. Like, really bad. Perineum burns are painful AF because the taint is extremely sensitive (as anyone who has had their salad tossed will tell you). You also run the risk of infection since the perineum is so close to your poop chute. And on top of that, there’s a chance that the area can blister and peel. Yikes.

While a blistered gooch sounds bad enough, the long-term risks are even worse. Too much sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancers like basal cell, squamous cell, or melanoma.

“It is known that prolonged exposure to UV rays causes a suppression of the immune system to detect and attack precancerous and cancerous cells,” Wightman says.

Since prolonged exposure to UV rays can also suppress the immune system, perineum sunning may also up your chances of a herpes simplex virus (HSV) flare-up.

Oh, and one more thing, UV radiation exposure has been linked to an increased risk of herpes zoster (aka shingles).

Perineum sunning is not a good idea for anyone to try. But it might be extra risky for folks who have high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).

“If a person has the cancer-causing HPV genotype(s), sunning the perineum or genital area would essentially increase the risk of an HPV-related cancer,” says Wightman.

More bad news. Lots of folks don’t give their gooch enough TLC and might miss health concern warning signs.

“Unfortunately, patients often forget to check the groin area during a self-skin exam at home, and some practitioners do not check the groin during skin screenings either,” Wightman says. “Melanomas in this region that are found tend to have a worse prognosis because of the difficulty seeing small melanomas or being diagnosed later.”

No one knows. Maybe cavemen used to sun their booty holes or perhaps it happened at Woodstock. Anything is possible. But we do know that perineum sunning as a fad started in 2019 thanks to an Instagram influencer.

“The [influencer’s] post claimed that sunning the perineum, the skin in between the genital area and the anus, was a ‘mental wellness’ technique,” she says.

Then a bunch of celebs — we’re looking at you Josh Brolin — jumped on the butthole sunning bandwagon. And bam! It became a trend and a dangerous one at that.

According to Wightman, the practice is based on an ancient Taoist belief that energy enters and exits the body through the perineum.

What can you do instead of perineum sunning? Here are some safe alternatives that are actually backed by science.

Perineum sunning is a risky fad that involves exposing your taint to the sun. Some social media influencers and celebs have claimed this practice boasts a buttload of benefits like more energy, increased libido, enhanced mood, better sleep, and more creativity. However, there’s literally no science that shows any of these claims are legit.

In the short-term, anal sunning can cause a gnarly sunburn right on your taint. But the long-term risks are a lot more serious. Prolonged sun exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. Additionally, sun exposure can suppress the immune system and increase your risk of an HSV flare-up.

So, instead of sunning your butthole, opt for a safer and more effective way to get the results you want. Your corn hole will thank you.