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Vitamin D may help reduce redness, swelling from sunburn

Joe Melillo - INDIANAPOLIS Ind. (WISH) - Summer is here, and with it comes the severe sunburns. Not only are they painful, but it also increases the risk of cancers like melanoma down the road.

However, a new study says high doses of vitamin D may be the answer to prevent the redness and swelling that comes with sunburn.

Doctors say there really is no substitute for wearing sunscreen or protective clothing but this new study says taking vitamin D could at least help with severe sunburn damage.

In the paper, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, researchers exposed volunteers to a sunburn on a small patch of skin on the inner arm. They then gave them large doses of vitamin D immediately after and found taking vitamin D decreased inflammation, redness and swelling. Volunteers took about 125 times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.  But with such little research to back up this theory, doctors don't recommend taking that much.

Melanie Kingsley a dermatologist for I.U. Health says the study is important.

"They showed post burn, if you have a severe burn and you take high doses of vitamin D your skin heals much more quickly," said Kingsley. "When you look at the skin under a microscope it's less inflamed so it's healing and has less effects from the sun damage."

In the study, along with traditional treatment of a sun burn with aloe or anti-inflammatory medicine, it says taking high doses of vitamin D can help bring down the swelling. Doctors say this study is new and more research needs to be done.

Kingsley also recommends taking vitamin D on a regular basis anyway. Vitamin D was thought to be good for helping build healthy bones and muscles, but research over the past few decades has found it helps regulate the immune system and reducing inflammation.

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