Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Did Scientists Just Discover a Cure for Sunburn Pain?


Researchers recently pinpointed the molecule responsible for the searing pain of a sunburn—and may have found a new way of eliminating it entirely. Image via Flickr user holisticmonkey

Go ahead, apply sunscreen when you head outside this summer. Re-apply it over and over. Despite your best efforts, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually get burned.

If nothing else, you’re likely to miss a spot here and there. And because it naturally wears off over time and comes off even faster when you’re wet or sweaty, medical experts recommend re-applying it as often as once an hour for full coverage—a schedule few sunbathers care to follow.

You’ll probably be told to apply aloe vera gel to numb the pain. Controlled studies, though, have found no evidence that the plant extract is actually effective in treating sunburn pain, conventional wisdom notwithstanding.

Until recently, all this meant that spending hours under the Sun likely meant some pain—and once a burn happened, the searing pain was inevitable. But new research by a group of scientists from Duke University may signal the arrival of an entirely new type of sunburn treatment, based on our growing understanding of the molecular activity that occurs when we get burned.

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