You know that you need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. You know that melanoma can be deadly. You also know that other forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, while deadly only in rare cases, can leave you with nasty scars. But you may think that if you're spending all day inside, you don't need to worry about applying sunscreen.
That may be the case if you truly never leave your home. But if you do, even if you're just driving to the office or to the grocery store, you need sunscreen. Yes, even if you park in a parking garage and don't get any sun walking into the building.
The scary truth is that we get quite a bit of sun exposure simply from driving. Sunlight consists of both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. UVA rays, however, cause wrinkles, make the effects of UVB rays worse, and may cause skin cancer directly. While your car windows do filter out UVB rays, they don't protect you from UVA rays.
Because of this, researchers at Saint Louis University School of Medicine decided to investigate whether skin cancers are more prevalent on the left side of the face, the side closest to the window when we drive. They published their findings in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. For the study, they reviewed the patients who visited the university's dermatology department in 2004.
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They found that skin cancer in general was only slightly more common on the left side than on the right (52.6% and 47.4%, respectively). However, melanoma was a different story. Of the 42 melanoma cases they reviewed, 31 (74%) were on the left side. Both men and women showed more cancer on the left, but the difference was even more pronounced in men.
Given how dangerous melanoma can be, this is a strong reminder to apply a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays whenever you'll be exposed to the sun. The study researcher, Dr. Scott Fosko says, "Professional drivers learn to wear proper safety equipment, be it gloves, steel-toed boots, or safety glasses, when appropriate. Sunscreen should be added to the list. An ounce of sunscreen applied as prevention on the road can be worth a lot of time and expense parked at a doctor's office later on."
I especially like the simpler sunscreens that contain fewer chemicals, particularly those made of combinations of zinc and titanium dioxide. These will block the sun from reaching your skin. Some companies even make them in powder form so that you can apply them over your makeup before you start your evening commute.
Keep in mind that it's also important to maintain the overall health of your skin so that it's prepared to fight off the damage you do receive from occasional sun exposure. Our Nourishing Day Crème and Restorative Night Treatment do this well. By giving skin a concentration of the nutrients it needs, we are building a strong foundation on which to apply our outer layer of sunscreen defense.
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