Sunburns: The Pain is the Good Part

In La Jolla

By Nasrin Mani, M.D.

Let’s be clear: you shouldn’t be getting so much sun that you get sunburnt. Sunburns are very bad for your skin, but if you do get sunburnt, the part you hate most is likely the best part for you.

According to new research, the pain, swelling, and redness of a sunburn is not due to the damage caused by the sun, it’s due to your body’s healing response.

When your skin is damaged by ultraviolet (UV) light, it suffers damage to, among other things, its RNA. RNA is a similar compound to DNA, and when certain types of RNA are damaged, they are released by the skin cells. These broken RNA bits irritate neighboring cells and trigger them to create an immune response, which results in pain, swelling, and redness.

This immune response seems to be designed to heal the skin after cells die, but it may also be intended to choke off cells that have genetic damage before these cells become cancerous.

Understanding this mechanism will not only help us with sunburn treatment and prevention, but may also help to refine psoriasis treatments and other procedures that utilize UV radiation.

To learn more about advanced treatment options for your skin in San Diego, please contact La Jolla Cosmetic Laser Clinic.

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