Though the culprit of sunburn is obviously sun exposure, researchers have gotten down to a chemical level in order to explain the event. When killed by ultraviolet light, a certain type of RNA in a cell breaks down. This sends out a message to surrounding cells that results in inflammation in healthy skin around the dead cell. The RNA responsible for sunburn is a noncoding RNA, meaning it controls how our genes work as opposed to holding genetic information.
As much as we dislike sunburn, the inflammation may actually help as it allows our skin to heal after ridding itself of the dead cells. The researchers also theorize that the inflammation may also help to kill cells with genetic damage lessening the chance of them becoming cancerous. The findings of this study may aid in the development of inflammation blockers which would go a long way in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
- Sunburn Is Your RNA Crying Out in Pain (gizmodo.co.uk)
- Sunburn Is Consequence Of RNA Damage To Skin Cells (medicalnewstoday.com)
- The Inflammatory Mechanism Involved In Sunburn Described For The First Time (medicalnewstoday.com)