Sunburn is skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays, and it can appear as warm, tender, red or sore skin.
The NHS recommend protecting yourself with suncream that has a label featuring: “The letters “UVA” in a circular logo and at least 4-star UVA protection, and a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to protect against UVB.”
Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that taking vitamin D supplements after unprotected sun exposure could boost levels of a protein in the skin that fuels tissue repair.
They discovered that if they were taken within an hour, it could dramatically reduce redness, swelling and inflammation.
Professor Kurt Lu, lead study author of Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, said: “We hypothesise vitamin D helps promote protective barriers in the skin by rapidly reducing inflammation.
“What we did not expect was that at a certain dose, vitamin D not only was capable of suppressing inflammation, it was also activating skin repair genes.”
The study authors concluded that taking 1.25mg – significantly more than the recommended daily allowance in the UK of 10mcg – provided relieving effects for 48 hours after the burn.
However, they also discovered that participants who took 2.5mg had even less swelling, while those who took 5mg had the largest reduction in inflammation.
Additionally, those with the highest blood levels of vitamin D also had less skin redness and a jump in gene activity related to skin barrier repair.
The study is the first to show that vitamin D can reduce inflammation in the skin.
Researchers believe it could one day potentially help prevent sunburn.
The study suggests the way in which vitamin D aids skin repair is because the nutrient increases skin levels of an anti-inflammatory enzyme, arginase-1.
It enhances tissue repair after damage and helps activate other anti-inflammatory proteins.
However, Professor Lu added: “I would not recommend at this moment that people start taking vitamin D after sunburn based on this study alone.
“But, the results are promising and worthy of further study.”