Most of us have gotten pretty skilled at preventing sunburns, but for some, going out in the sun can have severe consequences. In fact, they are left sitting inside on any type of sunny day because of skin that is so sensitive it simply burns.
Now, science may have discovered a cure for sunburns, so even the most sensitive can enjoy their time in the sun like the rest of us. About 13 years ago, Duke University neurologist, Wolfgang Liedtke, PhD and a team of scientists discovered a molecule that initiates the complex series of cellular events that lead to pain. The molecule is called TRPV4, and it’s a big deal.
The most recent research of TRPV4 has led Dr. Liedtke and his team to the effects of this molecule on mice under UV rays. They found that when applied to mice, blocking the molecule can actually help to prevent some of the painful sunburn effects, such as redness and blistering. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to Dr. Liedtke, the more the molecule was deleted, the less sensitivity to the UV light the mice were. He does also warn that people shouldn’t get rid of their sunscreen just yet because while the painful effects of sunburn can be prevented, it is not clear if the technology can fight against the DNA damage that causes cancer.
There is concern that despite the ability to defend against painful sunburn, with an inability to protect against DNA damage, any resulting product could be misused.
It’s also essential to remember that even if you don’t get sunburned, UVB rays can still cause damage to the skin. Studies about tanning beds have proven this, and it is what has led to the broad spectrum protection in sunscreens we purchase today.
Although it’s still necessary to stick to the day cream and sunscreen, there could soon be a day that those with hypersensitive skin will be able to head outside with the rest of the world. Dr. Liedtke is hopeful that there might be a way to develop a sunscreen that contains the blocker, which would be helpful to those with extreme sun sensitivity.