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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

People’s Pharmacy: Can aspirin really help protect against sunburn?

 (The Spokesman-Review)
By Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. King Features Syndicate

Q. My spouse and daughter are both natural blondes, and their fair skin burns and blisters easily in the sun. About 15 years ago, they began taking an aspirin if they started to turn pink from being in the sun. They’ve had no blistering or bad burns since we have used aspirin.

We usually take only one aspirin tablet. (My daughter is 30 now; we knew children should not take aspirin.) I have mentioned this approach to people, even nurses, and no one seems to know about it.

A. Sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation) damages the skin in several ways. These include inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage.

Dermatological researchers have found that aspirin can help protect skin from inflammation caused by ultraviolet radiation (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, January 2021).

Scientists are figuring out the details of exactly how aspirin provides this protection (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, January 2023).

Even though aspirin helps protect against sunburn and possibly skin cancer, dermatologists urge everyone to use sunscreen as well.

Q. I developed terrible swollen gums that required surgery after taking amlodipine for high blood pressure. My periodontist advised me to switch to another blood pressure medication as soon as I could, as he has seen this condition in other patients who used amlodipine.

I’d welcome a suggestion about medicines that would not cause this problem. It would be better, in my opinion, not to need this surgery again.

A. Let your primary care provider know about this complication (gingival hyperplasia). It is a known side effect of amlodipine and other calcium antagonists such as verapamil and nifedipine. There are several other options that your doctor could choose that would not cause gum overgrowth.

We discuss antihypertensive medications as well as nondrug approaches to control high blood pressure in our “eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions.” You will find this online resource under the Health eGuides tab at

Q. I had a number of skin tags on my neck. My children liked to play with them, but I found that annoying.

I did an in-home A1c test and found I was mildly insulin resistant (5.9-6.0). I changed my diet (lower carbs, no sugar) and dropped my A1c to 4.9!

Then I noticed that the skin tags had totally disappeared. Now when I get off my diet for too long, I notice a small skin tag, but it goes away when I am faithful to my eating plan. I thought you would be interested in the observation that my skin tags are diet sensitive.

A. The technical term for skin tag is acrochordon. These benign growths may be associated with metabolic syndrome (increased blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, large waistline) (Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Sciences Research, May 2021). We are delighted to hear that a diet designed to lower your blood sugar has also rid you of your skin tags.

Readers of this column have also reported some success by “smothering” skin tags with a liquid bandage. Here is one testimonial:

“A liquid bandage removed my skin tags easily and quickly. And none of them have returned. I told my dermatologist, and she was intrigued.”

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla., 32803, or email them via their website: Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”