Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Sun Protection While Driving August 6, 2010

I know there will be some people who will see the title of this post and think that I have really gone overboard with my continuing efforts to get people to use sunscreen everyday, all day.  I know many people feel they don’t need sunscreen when they only spend a small portion of their day outdoors.  Perhaps, if you are lucky, your commute to work is short.  Why do you need sun protection in that case?

Ok so think about these facts (courtesy of The Skin Cancer Foundation) for a moment:

A recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that nearly 53 percent of skin cancers in the US occur on the left, or drivers’ side of the body.  If you’re one of the approximately 208 million licensed drivers in the US, take heed: “The increase in left-sided skin cancers may be from the UV (ultraviolet) exposure we get when driving a car,” said Susan T. Butler, MD, coauthor of the study.

The sun’s ultraviolet radiation is associated with most cases of skin cancer, which will affect one in five Americans over a lifetime.  UV radiation reaches us in the form of shortwave UVB and long-wave UVA rays, but glass blocks only UVB effectively.  Although car windshields are partially treated to filter out UVA, the side windows let in about 63 percent of the sun’s UVA radiation; rear windows are also unprotected, leaving back seat passengers exposed. 

So even your short, daily commute to and from work can expose you to unwanted UV rays and leave you vulnerable to skin cancer (not to mention wrinkles).


Keep a Well Stocked Car


Be sure to keep sunscreen in your car so that it is always around in case you need to apply it or reapply it.  When you are going on longer drives have a hat to wear in the car if you have a sun roof or drive a convertible, and don’t forget sunglasses as well.

Get protective films on your car windows that screens out UVA and UVB rays.  You can even get shades or window films that you install yourself for the back side windows in order to protect your kids from too much sun exposure while they are in the car.


Further reading:  Sun Safety in Cars The Skin Cancer Foundation


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