Long hours in the car? Here’s how to protect your skin from sun damage

Brian Joss – Cancer affects many people. While there is nothing you can do to prevent certain types of cancer, there are some where you can take preventative measures. Such measures are often required if you spend a fair amount of time driving.

As part of World Cancer Day yesterday (4 February), the managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, looks at how dangerous the sun can be in the car. “Laminated windows can help protect your skin from UVB sun rays.

Research shows us these are the rays that cause the more visible sun burn and skid reddening. Laminated windows, however, do not prevent UVA rays from entering the car and these rays also penetrate the skin more deeply, causing harm.

 “Research from the USA, reveals that the people in a study who spent more time driving, had more damage to their skin on the side that is exposed to more sunlight. The study also showed that 74% of individuals with malignant melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of cancer, had tumours on their left side, which, in the USA is the side most exposed to sunlight. In South Africa, it would be interesting to see the same research conducted where many people drive with their arms resting on their open windows.”

How can you protect yourself from skin damage in the car? “Make use of skin lotion and moisturisers with SPF protection in them. These are not, however, as effective as sunscreen. We recommend including using sunscreen as part of your daily routine. Keep a travel sized sun lotion on you as well. Apply this should you feel your skin burning. Ideally, however, you should react before you feel the burn because you cannot feel UVA rays burning you.

 “You can also use clothing to protect your skin. South African temperatures can make covering up with long sleeves difficult, but where possible, make a point to do so. Polarised sunglasses will protect your eyes from sun damage and your eyelids from potential skin cancer. Also remember to carry water bottles that are steel, glass or BPA-free plastic.”

It is important that every driver take this danger seriously. “This is particularly so for males who may not put as much time and priority into their skin care. Commit to making use of moisturisers and sunscreen to protect your skin from the damage that many hours in the car can cause,” says Herbert. 

CAPTION: Searing sun: US studies highlight danger. Picture: Darwis Alwyn/ Motorpress

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