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Sun Damage Can Reach You Even in the Car

Skin careFor many people, summertime means fun road trips to the coast or across the country. Most of the time, when taking a long drive, we take a few preparatory steps. Car safety is an important matter for any road trip, so we may look at the tires, check our oil, and make sure our engine is tuned up and ready to roll. We may even pack snacks and entertainment to make the time go by quickly. What most people don’t do when preparing for a road trip is to consider their skin. As a cosmetic and medical dermatology practice, this is something we think our patients should know to do.

Skin Cancer is Far Too Prevalent for a Preventable Disease

According to statistics, approximately 1 out of every 5 people will develop skin cancer at some point. This number is quite high considering that most skin cancers stem from sun damage. Knowing this, we can see that taking steps to prevent sun damage means taking steps to avoid skin cancer. Most people are somewhat mindful about using sunscreen when spending time outdoors. Few, however, are nearly as aware of the need for sunscreen in the car.

A study focused on UV exposure through car windows discovered some interesting facts:


  • Vehicle windshields do not block or filter 100 percent of ultraviolet light from the sun.
  • Side and rear windows block even less; no more than 50 percent of ultraviolet light.
  • Most skin cancers develop on the face and neck. The second most common area is the arms.
  • More than 50 percent of skin cancers occur on the left side of the body.

Based on the outcome of this study, researchers suggest that more needs to be done to prevent unnecessary UV exposure. The level of investment taken can vary widely and may best depend on the amount that a person drives. Sun protection in a car may be achieved by having a transparent UV-filtering film applied to all windows or at least the windshield and front windows of a vehicle. Understandably, this may seem like a dramatic strategy to take. Easier alternatives include wearing sunscreen every day on the hands, arms, chest, neck, face, and ears. Broad-spectrum sunscreen is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Additionally, for those long car rides, a UV shirt or sleeve may be worn. UV sleeves are common among athletes. These garments slip over the arm and block a high percentage of ultraviolet light. The advantage of a UV shirt or sleeve is that this protection is a “set it and forget it” kind of thing; no reapplication necessary.

Summertime is a fun time that shouldn’t lead to unnecessary skin cancer concerns. Stay safe out there and remember your Manhattan dermatologist is here to support the health and beauty of your skin. To schedule a skin cancer screening or treatment to correct sun damage, call 212.391.8600.

Posted in: Skin Cancer

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