While we all know (or hopefully do!) the importance of wearing sunscreen, did you know you can get sun damage indoors? If you work in an office or spend large parts of the day in your car, you are not sufficiently protected from the sun just because you’re not outside.
A recently documented case of a truck driver, Bill McElligott, showed the shocking damage to one side of his face, after driving for a living for 28 years. Dermatologists estimate the left side of his face has aged about 20 years faster than the right side.
Another equally disturbing case of sun damage, is an office worker who has sat in the same office, next to a window, for 15 years. The left (window-facing) side of face has extreme sun damage, compared to the right.
UV radiation from the sun reaches the earth as longwave-length UVA and shortwave UVB rays – both significantly associated with most skin cancers. The Skin Cancer Foundation explains on their website that glass effectively blocks out UVB rays (responsible for skin burning), but not UVA (causing premature skin aging). While car windscreens are treated to block UVA and UVB, the side and rear windows are not. UV exposure is cumulative and can, over time, cause serious damage to skin: wrinkles, leathering, sagging and brown spots.
The solution, though, is fairly simple. Limit your exposure to the sun, by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, applied to your face, neck arm and hands, about half an hour before you go driving. Ensure the sunscreen contains a combination of UVA-shielding ingredients, like zinc oxide, titanium oxide, stabilized avobenzone and ecamsule. Covering your skin with long sleeves, collars and hats with a wide brim can also shield your skin.
Car windows can also be tinted or laminated, which will block UVA rays from penetrating the glass.