Researchers led by Dr Wolfgang Liedtke from Duke University School of Medicine have identified a molecule that is responsible for the redness and pain caused by sunburn.
The researchers analyzed mice and human tissue samples and found a molecule, known as TRPV4, found abundantly in the outermost layers of cells in the skin to be responsible for the redness and pain of sunburn.
The researchers also found that blocking the molecule can greatly reduce the pain caused by sunburn. The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We have uncovered a [new] explanation for why sunburn hurts. If we understand sunburn better, we can understand pain better because what plagues my patients day in and day out is what temporarily affects otherwise healthy people who suffer from sunburn", Dr Liedtke said.