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New Device May Help Reduce Sunburns

For many light skinned people, applying sunscreen isn’t enough to avoid being sunburnt on a typical day at the beach. Even for those who are highly alert to the amount of time they are in the sun and apply sunscreen on multiple occasions, the risk of getting burnt is still ever present.

A recent invention, however, makes keeping track of the amount of time you’ve been exposed to the sun easier. It works by applying an ultra violet sensitive marker to the skin before sunscreen is applied. The ink from the marker spreads onto the skin as a clear and virtually invisible substance, but becomes purple as soon as ultra light penetrates your sunscreen, signaling that more sunscreen needs to be applied. This is not only helpful for adults trying to be vigilant about the amount of time their own skin is exposed to the sun without protection, but for parents and people taking care of children also.

Similar ideas have been presented in the past. Other attempts at making an ultra violet sensitive device that can be worn have included a bracelet with a crystal that senses UV radiation and updates an app on your smartphone to remind you its time to reapply sunscreen. This was expensive, however. Skin patches that apply to the body like a nicotine patch that changed colors when exposed too long to the sun were also considered but ultimately rejected as too unattractive for use.

This new device dispenses the clear UV sensitive liquid from a container that works much like a large ink marker or pen. This makes it enjoyable for children to use as they feel like they are drawing on themselves. The UV sensitive substance applies clear and virtually invisible and doesn’t turn purple until the layer of subsequent sunscreen applied over it has lost its effectiveness, and allows ultra violet radiation to reach the skin. At this point the chemical reaction occurs which changes the original mark purple, signaling that the skin is no longer protected and subject to becoming sunburnt. In this way knowing the precise moment to reapply sunscreen and avoid sunburn becomes much easier to determine.

This product was developed in Canada and has been tested with family’s using it in typical vacation-type scenarios in the sun and near water. Results have been successful and will soon be available by 2016, ensuring that for those who have trouble avoiding sunburn, there is help available. 

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Maggie Brauer

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