So, we all know UV rays are damaging to the skin. Most people wear sunscreen in the summer when they’re going to be outside because it’s the smart thing to do. What you may not know, is even when you are driving in your cab, UV rays are damaging your skin. UVB rays are what cause sunburn when you’re outside too long, but UVA rays penetrate glass, causing skin damage without you even realizing it. As a professional driver, you spend most of your time driving, so this is important to recognize.
Harmful UV rays are associated with both skin aging and skin cancer. And unfortunately, your window does not filter all of these harmful UV rays. Over the years, this can leave you with a very lop-sided record of sun damage. A man featured on CNN drove a milk truck for 28 years. The left side of his face was more damaged than the right. He had no idea for those 28 years, UVA rays were coming through his window and causing severe damage to his face.
Without protection, just a few minutes of sun exposure each day can eventually cause noticeable changes to your skin. Freckles, age spots, spider veins, rough or leathery skin, fine wrinkles that disappear when stretched, loose skin, and a blotchy complexion, can all be caused by sun exposure. Over-exposure makes the skin lose its ability to repair itself because the skin’s collagen is broken down and the synthesis of new collagen is impaired.
As a professional driver, you get a lot of exposure to the sun every day, and it’s mostly to the left side of your face. Even in winter, you are exposed to UVA rays all day long. Even when the sun doesn’t feel very warm, it can still be causing damage to your skin. The UV rays are not diminished by the cold temperatures at all. So when it is 20° below zero there are still harmful UV rays penetrating the skin and causing damage. When there’s snow on the ground, these rays actually reflect off the snow. Even cloudy weather does not offer much protection. Up to 80% of UV radiation can penetrate cloud cover. The Skin Cancer Foundation reported one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
So what should you do to protect yourself?
- Wear sunscreen. This is the most obvious answer is to get sunscreen and use it daily. Keep in mind not all sunscreen products are equal. Many sunscreens are not FDA approved and do not provide the protection they claim. According to the FDA, sunscreen with spf 30 is the best option. Anything above spf 30 is not necessary, and anything below 30 spf is not effective enough. Often, sunscreens lose their potency soon after a certain amount of sun exposure but certain sunscreens have active ingredients that will keep it affective all day. Do a little research before you pick a brand, and always check the expiration date on the back of the bottle.
- Install a UV shield. Another option is to install a UV shield on your window. Although your window does not filter all UV rays, there are products you can put on your window that will. If you don’t want the hassle of putting on sunscreen every day, this is good option. UV shields provide protection from the harmful UV rays, without an inconvenience. Some top brands are CPFilms, and Llumar. These are going to be a little more expensive than sunscreen, but it may be worth it not to have to buy sunscreen on a regular basis.
- Wear sunglasses. Wear sunglasses while you’re driving. The skin around your eyes is especially sensitive. This is marginally helpful for preventing skin damage, but also to protect your eyes. The same UV rays you are protecting your skin from can also damage your eyes; and as a driver, your eyes are one of your most important assets.
You may not have thought about how the sun is affecting your skin while you are inside your truck, especially in the winter months. But as with any profession where you are exposed to sunlight, it ’s definitely something to consider. Choose ways to minimize the effects of the sun that work best for you.