You learn very quickly that most over the counter medicines only mask the pain of a sunburn for a short time. Medicines can't remove this agonizing pain, because, until now, scientists didn't know what caused it.
In a significant discovery, researchers from Kings College London may have identified at least one protein responsible for this searing pain. The team isolated a small protein called CXCL5 that 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 the pain of a sunburn. [New Scientist; Shutterstock/Amy Walters]