When planning a road trip, most people plan ahead by getting their tires checked, oil changed, and by prepping the snacks and entertainment they may need along their journey. Car safety is, of course, a critical aspect of a great road trip. So is sun safety. Yes, even in the car, your skin can sustain damage from strong UV rays.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, More than half of the skin cancers that occur in the US are found on the left side of the body. The left side is the driver’s side, which suggests that UV rays are not stopped by car windows.
It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Research has confirmed that most skin cancers are resultant of ultraviolet radiation, aka the rays of light emitted by the sun. Ultraviolet light has short-wave UVB rays and long-wave UVA rays, only one of which is blocked by car windows (UVB). Windshields of most vehicles are treated to filter out some degree of UVA light, but side windows allow over 60 percent of UVA light to come through. Back windows and the rear window are untreated so also allow ultraviolet radiation in.
Solving the UV Problem for a Safer Road Trip
For people who are interested in reducing their chance of developing skin cancer, solutions for the entry of UV light into the care are needed. One way to prevent exposure to ultraviolet radiation while driving is to apply light-filtering window film applied. The film is transparent and blocks nearly 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.
No time or interest in a window film? We get it. Just knowing that UV light can cause damage through car windows is a good start. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that we apply broad-spectrum sunscreen every two hours when outside. The same practice can be utilized on long road trips. Sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher is ideal for driving and should be applied anywhere the sun may hit, including the hands, arms, face, neck, and ears.
During the study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found that most skin cancers had been found on drivers’ head and neck. Second to that, the largest number of skin cancers were found on the arm. Many people prop their elbow on the window while driving. This is comfortable so we cannot recommend that this habit end. However, we can encourage the use of sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt, or a UV protective arm sleeve like those worn by athletes.
With summer right around the corner, our awareness about skin cancer increases. Our team wishes you and your family a healthy, happy summer season.