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Does Sunburn Have a Purpose?
Posted by Dr. Joshua Fox

Does Sunburn Have a Purpose?
Posted by Dr. Joshua Fox on October 22, 2012

The average person experiences at least one sunburn throughout their lifetime. By now it is common knowledge that even one sunburn can greatly increase one’s future risk of developing skin cancer. What if the processes associated with sunburn actually have a practical purpose?

Burn Away the Damage

Research was conducted on human skin cells and mice to study the skin’s response to ultraviolet (UV) exposure. A sunburn occurs as a result of RNA damage. The red, painful inflammation is prompted by surrounding healthy skin cells to remove the damage before it becomes cancerous.

But the Cancerous Effects Need to Be Stopped

Numerous skin conditions are currently treated with UV therapy. The obvious downside to this method is an increased risk of skin cancer. In addition, patients with certain skin conditions, such as lupus, are extremely sensitive to UV light. If the inflammatory process can be stopped, these findings can help treat numerous skin conditions, including psoriasis.

Possible Link Between Genetics and Sunburn

Based on the mice, there is likely a connection between genetics and the way one’s skin reacts to sunburn. While humans have a genetic composition similar to that of mice, it has yet to be proven whether humans’ genes affect their ability to respond to sunburn. In general, research conducted on animals should be taken lightly, as their result often do not carry over to humans.

Schedule Your Complete Body Examination Today

To lower your risk of developing skin cancer, minimize your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, being sure to apply sunscreen regularly if you must be outdoors. It is also important to undergo yearly complete body examinations by a board-certified dermatologist to ensure that your skin is in good health. At Advanced Dermatology, PC, our board-certified dermatologists can perform complete body examinations and advise you on how to stay safe in the sun. Contact us today to schedule a complete body examination. Our ten conveniently located offices welcome patients from Queens, Long Island (Albertson, West Islip, Commack, East Setauket), New York City, Westchester County, Bergen County, NJ, Union County, NJ, and all surrounding areas.

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