For most people, car safety means seat belts and airbags. But there is another important way to avoid the dangerous path that protects your skin from the sun.
According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly 53% of skin cancers in the United States occur on the left side or on the driver’s side of the body. If you are one of the approximately 208 million licensed drivers in the United States, please note: “The increase in skin cancer on the left side may come from the ultraviolet (UV) radiation we receive while driving a car,” said Susan T. Butler. MD, the co-author of the study.
Solar ultraviolet radiation is associated with most skin cancers, affecting one-fifth of Americans in a lifetime. UV radiation reaches us in the form of short-wave UVB and long-wave UVA rays, but glass only effectively blocks UVB. Although part of the car’s windshield filters out UVA, the side windows account for approximately 63% of the sun’s UVA radiation. The rear window is also unprotected, exposing rear passengers. However, there is a solution. The transparent window film removes UVB and UVA almost 100% without reducing visibility and is sold in all 50 states. If you have a window film installed, remember that it will only protect you when the window is closed.
How to Protect Skin When You’re in a Car
Sunscreens should be reapplied for a quick re-appearance during extended periods of time. (the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends re-applying every two hours). Find a sun protection factor with a sun protection index of 15+ and a combination of the following anti-UVA ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide.
The driver’s head and neck are the most exposed to ultraviolet light. So the Butler team found that it was not surprising that the patient’s skin cancer on the head or neck was more than 82%. A solid closed roof is your best choice. If you have a skylight or a canopy, wear a hat. Preferably a wide edge (up to 3 inches or more). At the very least, apply sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face, neck, and scalp.
The second most common area of skin cancer is the arm. So besides applying sunscreen, avoid keeping your elbows on the open window while driving. Put your arms in the car and put your hands on the wheels. Long-sleeved shirts are also a good sunscreen option.
Wear a hat, sunscreen and UV protection sunglasses inside the car. And you will have a sun protection travel kit to safely transport you to your destination.