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How To Soothe That Itchy Sunburn

Have you ever had a sunburn? First it hurts. Then it itches. And itches. And itches.

Why is that?

Sunburn is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage to your skin. Too much UV damages your skin cell’s DNA, and your immune system responds by killing off the bad cells. Because UV radiation doesn’t penetrate (unlike X-rays for example), it damages only the surface layer of your skin. This outermost layer happens to be loaded with special nerve fibers called C-fibers which are responsible for itch.

Itch is a mechanism to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Why Are Humans So Drawn To Sunlight Despite Its Negative Consequences?

Sunny-beachIt doesn’t make sense: If sunlight causes cancer, why are human beings so drawn to it, flocking to sunny beaches for vacation time and hoping for sunshine after a rainy spell?

One answer, says David Fisher, chief of dermatology at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, may be that humans are literally addicted to sunshine so our skin can make vitamin D. New evidence suggests that we get the same kick out of being in the sun that we get from any addictive substance or behavior. It stimulates the so-called “pleasure center” in the brain and releases a rush of feel-good chemicals like endorphins.

So there may be more than a desire to look good in a tan behind the urge to soak up the sun’s rays. This craving may be a survival mechanism that evolved over thousands of years because humans need vitamin D to survive. Skin makes this crucial vitamin when it is exposed to sunlight. There isn’t much vitamin D in food (except in some of today’s fortified foods) so the human brain rewards us with a rush of pleasure when we seek out the sun and get vitamin D.

Seeking sunshine can be downright dangerous. As Fisher points out, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

What To Expect From The New Sunscreen Labels

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the new rules regarding labeling of sunscreen.  The goal is to make it easier for the average person to chose a sunscreen.

The new labels will not be in place until next summer, so you need to be aware.

When the new labels are in place, NO sunscreen will be allowed to be labeled as a SUNBLOCK or as WATERPROOF.

Under the new labeling rules

  • Products that have SPF values between 2 and 14 may be labeled as Broad Spectrum if they pass the required test.
  • Only products that are labeled both as Broad Spectrum with SPF values of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, when used as directed.
  • A warning statement will be required on any product that is not Broad Spectrum, or that is Broad Spectrum but has an SPF between 2 to 14 stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

In addition to the final rule for sunscreen labeling, the FDA released a Proposed Rule which would Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Is Sunburn More Likely On The Beach Or In The Mountains?

While vacationing in Idaho and Montana last week (blissfully off the grid), I experienced something beautiful: altitude. At 6,260 feet Stanley, Idaho is a mile higher than my home in San Diego. The skies there were a brilliant blue. There was daylight well after 10PM. The mornings were a chilly 35 degrees. And I got sunburned.

How can this be? Montana is over 1,000 miles north of San Diego. Shouldn’t the sun be stronger down here? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Baby Boomers And Skin Cancer

Baby boomers may have a new reputation. According to new cancer research, they are five times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma — the type of skin cancer that kills the most people.

The incidence rates of melanoma have risen from 7 cases per 100,000 people in the 1970′s to 36 cases per 100,000 today. The rising rate corresponds to the increase in tanning during the 1970′s, when baby boomers were young adults.

Parents and grandparents of teens should be checked by dermatologists as part of their preventive healthcare. I can only hope that teens today will be responsible for the stopping of this increase as they’ve grown up with the message that sunscreen is important and should be a daily part of their lives.

Photo credit: tata_aka_T

This post, Baby Boomers And Skin Cancer, was originally published on by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

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