With another Labor Day and, in essence, another summer gone by, millions of Americans are recalling that bad sunburn in July . . . and that second one in August.
Soon, a stick-on strip may help you save your skin. So say the makers of a sunburn "radar" device that could be on the U.S. market by next summer.
The sun gauge looks just like a Band-Aid and is as easy to apply. The idea would be to stick the plastic waterproof strip on a patch of exposed skin, particularly if you haven't soaked up any rays for a while.
The middle of the strip contains a sealed, nontoxic chemical that turns blue after a specific amount of ultraviolet radiation, the minimum erythemal dose, or MED. That's the amount of ultraviolet rays the skin can take before burning. The blue signal would be a warning to roll over or cover up.
The strip was devised in Australia, where the incidence of skin cancer is the highest in the world. The developer, Soltec Research, has been making popular suntan lotions for a decade. A Soltec spokesman says the product is the first such gauge to be stick-on, disposable and inexpensive. He says the strip is well past the testing stage and the manufacturing process is being ironed out. The plan is to have the device on the shelves by the time summer hits Down Under -- in November -- then target the United States and Europe. Soltec says government approvals are unnecessary because the product is not therapeutic and the chemical never touches the skin.
Like Band-Aids, the strips would be sold in bulk, with different sensitivities for different skin types. Mum's the word on the trade name.
Should it come to pass, a reminder: The strip is merely a warning, to be used with adequate sunscreen and common sense.