Yesterday marked the first official day of summer, which means sunshine and good times. But as a truck driver, have you ever thought about if your windows protect your skin from UV rays?
Maybe you’ve seen that photo of a truck driver that went viral a few years ago whose left side of her face was noticeably wrinkled and sun damaged from her 28 years of truck driving. If you are wanting to avoid that same situation, it’s important to know what UV rays are and how they can affect you while driving.
According to skincancer.org, there are two types of ultraviolet rays that cause skin damage- UVA and UVB. UVA rays are less intense than their counterpart, but account for 95% of all UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface and are 30 to 50 times more prevalent than UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin causing damage in the deep layers of your skin that result in aging and wrinkling. They are abundant during all sunlight hours and throughout the whole year, even making its way through the clouds.
UVB rays are more intense than UVA and cause sunburns, damaging the skins top layers. They are most rampant from 10 am – 4 pm April to October, but reflect off of surfaces such as snow and ice.
Protected by Glass?
So here’s the real question, do the windows on tractors stop both types of ultraviolet rays? The answer is no. Unfortunately for truckers and motorists alike, there is still a risk of damaging your skin even when inside your vehicle. Glass is able to block UVB rays and luckily for us, windshields are specifically treated to block both UVA and UVB rays. However, side windows do not protect against UVA rays. This means that your left side of your body (if you are driving) is unprotected from 95% of all UV radiation and puts you more at risk for skin damage and skin cancer.
So what? It can’t really make that big a difference, right? Wrong. When driving, the left side of our bodies receive six times more UV radiation than right side of our bodies! Over time this can result in a higher risk for brown “age” spots, wrinkles, and cancers like melanoma.
Sunscreen: Take your mother’s advice from childhood and always wear sunscreen! Even when in your truck, be sure to slather on that sun protection. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and look for products with UVA blocking ingredients like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, stabilized avobenzone, and ecamsule. If you’re not a fan of reading product ingredients, watch for “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB” labeled sunscreens. And don’t forget to reapply every two hours!
Clothing: An easy way to protect your skin from UVA rays is to not let them even touch your skin. Keep a light jacket and a hat in your truck that you can wear to protect your arms, face, head, and neck from the sun.
Sunglasses: Find some cool sunglasses and protect those eyes! UVA and UVB rays can cause cataracts and damage the delicate skin around your eyes. Keep your vision strong and wear sunglasses when driving during daylight hours.
Get Tested: Don’t forget to visit your dermatologist to get a skin exam once a year. They will be able to check for the early signs of skin damage and keep your skin in a healthy condition.
Avoiding the sun is impossible, especially as a truck driver, but that doesn’t mean you have to put yourself at risk for skin cancer or skin aging. Take protective measures, always keep sunscreen with you, and enjoy the sun!