Scientists figure out why sun overexposure makes our skin sore (a sunburn!)

A group of scientists have figured out (at least in part) why overexposure to UV light makes our skin get sore, red and swollen.

It goes like this:

  • You sit out in the sun too long. (As if you haven’t been told.)
  • Inside your skin cells, that little RNA molecule is damaged by UV-B — and its shape gets altered.
  • Damaged skin cells release altered pieces of RNA.
  • The altered RNA can bind to a receptor in undamaged skin cells and immune cells called peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
  • These cells, as a result, start pumping out chemicals called cytokines that induce inflammation.
  • Redness and swelling follow.

That’s not the end of it, though. Even though there’s a short term ramp-up in immune activity during sunburn, later on the immune system is suppressed for a period of time.

 

Learn more: L.A. Times – Ow, sunburn: Scientists figure out what’s going on in our skin

 

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The best beach & sports sunscreens

The best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt. No chemicals for the skin to absorb, no questions about whether the product works, no bogus claims like “sunblock.” (No conventional product blocks out all rays. That’s why the FDA is trying to ban the term. )

But when you can’t avoid exposing your skin to the sun, use EWG’s Sunscreen Guide to find top-rated sunscreens with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection but fewer hazardous chemicals that penetrate the skin.

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The list has narrowed down over 1800 sunscreens to 188 of the best beach/sport options.

Each one contain the minerals zinc or titanium. They are the right choices for people who want the best UVA protection without any chemical considered to be a potential hormone disruptor. None of the products contain oxybenzone or vitamin A, and none are sprayed or powdered.

See if your sunscreen is on the list, or find one to buyEWG Sunscreen Buyer’s Guide 2012

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