• Quick Study: Sunburn

  • THE QUESTION
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  • THE QUESTION
    Might corticosteroid creams reduce the effect of overexposure to the sun?
    THIS STUDY
    Involved 20 adults who had their backs exposed to ultraviolet rays from a sunlamp. A corticosteroid cream was applied to certain areas of their skin 30 minutes before exposure to the UV rays and to other areas either six hours or 23 hours after exposure; one area of skin was left untreated. No difference in redness was detected between the areas where the cream was applied after sunlamp exposure and the untreated area. However, skin that was treated before being exposed to the UV rays was less red than skin treated after exposure or not treated.
    WHO MAY BE AFFECTED?
    Anyone who spends time in the sun. Burning occurs when exposure to the sun's rays surpasses the ability of the skin pigment melanin to protect the skin from damage. Sunburn symptoms — redness and soreness — typically appear six to 48 hours after exposure.
    CAVEATS
    In everyday use, people generally apply corticosteroid creams after, not before, sun exposure. The study involved a small number of people and did not compare corticosteroid use with other treatments.
    FIND THIS STUDY
    May issue of Archives of Dermatology.
    LEARN MORE
    At www.epa.gov/sunwise (search for "health effects") and www.clevelandclinic.org/health (search for "sunburn").
    The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.
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