You learn very quickly that most over the counter medicines only mask the agonizing pain of a sunburn for a short time. Medicines can't remove this terrible discomfort, because, until now, scientists didn't what caused it.

In a significant discovery, researchers from Kings College London may have identified one protein responsible for this searing pain. Called CXCL5, it shows up in large quantities in the sunburned skin of human and mice test subjects.


When the researchers injected this protein back into the mice, it caused a level of pain similar to the original burn. The team then added an antibody that neutralizes CXCL5 and the pain went away. This discovery is not a panacea for those who fall asleep while worshipping the sun, but it could lead to the development of medicines that block, not just dull the pain of a sunburn. [New Scientist; Shutterstock/Amy Walters]

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