Most people know by now that going for a hike or going to the pool require sunscreen. But few ever think about reaching for the sunscreen before their daily commute.
A new study shows that neglecting sunscreen when you drive is a habit you need to break.
The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology confirms what many suspected--that when it comes to skin cancer, it is "significantly more likely to arise on the left than the right."
The study found when that more than 50 percent of skin cancer cases show up on the left side of the body. The likely culprit: the sun you get while in the driver's seat. While UVB rays, which are responsible for skin reddening and sunburns, do not penetrate through glass, UVA rays, the sun's long-wave rays, do. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, while UVB rays play a key role in skin cancer, it is now known the UVA rays contribute to, and can even initiate, the development of skin cancers.
Furthermore, UVA rays are responsible for premature wrinkling, meaning that those who fail to put sunscreen on before driving aren't just endangering their skin, but are causing their skin to age quicker.
The study shows that while driving, your left arm gets five times the amount of UV rays that your right arm does. An hour and a half round-trip commute comes out to about 30 hours a month--30 hours of incidental sun damage that most don't realize they are getting.
The results of the study come as a surprise to some drivers. "Sometimes I am a little bit more red on the left side, but I've never really thought about it," said Jennifer Hagemeier-Robles.
Meanwhile, Elaine Taravella said, "I suppose thinking about people driving around in cars with an arm out the window, it makes sense."
Many dermatologists now suggest protecting your skin while driving in a similar manner to being outside. Look for a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher--a moisturizer with sunscreen in it is effective--UV blocking sunglasses and even consider wearing a broad-brimmed hat, which will help shield the head and neck. Also, don't rely on sunscreen applied in the morning to protect you all day--reapply sunscreen for the commute home as well. Always apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before sun exposure.
The American Academy of Dermatology also suggests taking vehicles to a professional auto shop for window tinting.
"You can stop up to 99.9 percent of the ultra violet (rays) by any treatment to a vehicle," said Mark Muchmore, who owns High Country Window Tint in Colorado Springs.
Muchmore says this time of year, he typically sees an increase in business.
"The benefits of that will be protecting your skin," said Muchmore.
It's never too late to start protecting your skin: the Skin Cancer Foundation says that daily use of sunscreen may lower your long-term risk of cancer, as well as allow your skin to heal and repair some damage.
For further information on sunscreen, click on the link below.