If you have ever wondered how much protection you get from the sun when inside your car, you need to take a look at photos recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine of a 69 year-old truck driver who shows clear evidence that 25 years of driving can lead to damaged skin, simply from the sun’s rays. But is it wrinkles that you should be worried about or is skin cancer from driving the real concern?
But doesn’t the windscreen protect me?
Unfortunately, the windows of your car offer very little protection against the sun as they allow the harmful UVA rays through the glass. While these rays are less associated with melanoma than UVB rays (which are filtered by car windows), they can lead to DNA changes that can eventually lead to skin cancer. Plus, many of us drive with the windows down exposing our faces and arms to the sun directly.
In the UK a Mum of three Kim Chivers recently stated to the media that she thought her facial melanoma was caused by sunlight hitting her face while she drove or when stuck in traffic jams. When in the UK, she didn’t think she needed to wear sun cream on her face and especially not while in the car. Kim said that she had a mark on her face for many years, but in 2012 it began to darken and grow larger. Soon after this it was diagnosed as a form of skin cancer that was cut out of her skin before it spread.
How can we avoid sun exposure in the car?
Most of us fully understand that we need to protect our skin when sunbathing (or to not sunbathe at all). We avoid sun beds, we stay out of the midday sun, we wear hats and long sleeves and we slap on sunscreen whenever we head outdoors. But do we think that sitting in our car is as dangerous as the outdoor sun? Probably not.
Of course, the advice is the same as is offered for all sun exposure:
· Don’t underestimate the effect of the sun coming in your car windows and hitting your skin.
· Wear sunscreen at all times when outdoors – even if you are inside your car.
· Wear hats and long sleeves in your car to shade the sunlight from your skin.
· Remember to think about your children in the backseat. Use shades for the windows to keep them safe too.
· If you have any type of unusual mole on your skin – get it checked . Better safe than sorry.
It might be something you haven’t really considered before – but skin cancer can come from all sources of sunlight – even through glass. Don’t be caught out and remember to be skin safe.