Environmental signals can be translated into chromatin changes, which alter gene expression. Here we report a novel concept that cells can signal chromatin damage from the nucleus back to the surrounding tissue through the cytokine interleukin-1alpha (IL-1α). Thus, in addition to its role as a danger signal, which occurs when the cytokine is passively released by cell necrosis, IL-1α could directly sense DNA damage and act as signal for genotoxic stress without loss of cell integrity. Here we demonstrate localization of the cytokine to DNA-damage sites and its subsequent secretion. Interestingly, its nucleo-cytosolic shuttling after DNA damage sensing is regulated by histone deacetylases (HDAC) and IL-1α acetylation. To demonstrate the physiological significance of this newly discovered mechanism, we used IL-1α knockout mice and show that IL-1α signaling after UV skin irradiation and DNA damage is important for triggering a sterile inflammatory cascade in vivo that contributes to efficient tissue repair and wound healing.