As we emerge from the winter months, overexposure to the sun may not top anyone’s spring safety check list. However, the risk of developing skin cancer from overexposure should always be on the minds of the owner-operators who work in the elements and anyone else who spends a lot of time on the road.
Window glass does not effectively block out the sun’s UV rays. UV Rays can penetrate through glass and cause skin damage, without people realizing it. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, drivers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer lesions on the left side of their bodies.
You’ve probably heard all of the advice before, but it’s worth repeating – and worth remembering. Here are some tips from the FDA to keep you protected inside and outside of your vehicle:
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, the FDA recommends 30 SPF or higher
- Wear clothing to protect exposed skin
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck
- Wear sunglasses to block as much UVA and UVB rays as possible
- Seek shade, especially during midday hours
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with over 2 million skin cancer diagnoses every year.
A few minutes of sun exposure each day can cause noticeable damage. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these signs of skin damage:
- Age Spots
- Spider veins
- Rough, leathery skin
- Fine wrinkles that disappear when stretched
- Loose skin
- Blotchy complexion
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Each of these have many different appearances, which is why knowing the early warning signs is so important. If you notice one or more of these severe warning signs, contact your doctor right away:
- A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multi-colored.
- A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
- Changes in texture or color
- Increases in size or thickness
- Is bigger than 6 mm or 1/4″ (the size of a pencil eraser)
- Appears after the age of 21
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, bleed or does not heal within three weeks.
A map of the United States from the EPA is designed to help people protect themselves from harmful UV light by detailing the high/low UV rays for the current day. It is recommended that people protect themselves when the UV index is at 3 or higher.
Remember even if your skin type doesn’t burn easily, you’re still at risk. Sunscreen not only protects your skin from burning, it reduces damage to your skin. While a sunburn is an immediate reaction to the sun, damage from the sun occurs over a lifetime. Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis is a good practice no matter what your skin type.