For the first time, science has illuminated why our skin reddens and stings when we get too much sunshine.
Though sunburn is a common experience for human beings, there’s surprisingly little information on how energy in sunlight is detected in the body as a source of danger.
Now scientists have identified the chemical culprit that triggers our skin’s warning signs. A type of RNA, they found, breaks into pieces within a dead cell done in by ultraviolet sunlight.
Next, so-called receptor molecules in neighboring cells detects the damaged RNA and “tell” the body to inflame the healthy skin around the dead cell—and voilà: sunburn. Learn more here.