In recent years, dermatologists have observed that Americans have more sun damage on the left side of their bodies. The cause? The hours we spend in our cars.
Contrary to popular belief, ultraviolet A (UVA) light radiation does penetrate car windows. It is true that glass blocks UVB light, and the windshield blocks all UV—but a car’s side and rear windows let UVA light in.
As a result of cumulative UVA exposure, a US study by Singer, et al revealed that Americans have more brown pigmentation and deeper wrinkles on their left sides. In other countries where the driver sits on the right side, the same effect has been seen on the right side of people’s bodies.
The left side of the head, neck, arm, and hand are exposed to up to six times the amount of UV radiation as the right side.
Observational studies have found that precancerous growths (which could potentially lead to melanomas) are more likely to occur on the UVA-exposed left side of the body.
Proposed solutions to this problem range from wearing sunscreen while driving to tinting the windows of cars to block UVA light. BioSpa at Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery and Drs. Larry Nichter and Jed Horowitzoffer all of this and other technologies for sun damaged skin and can select the best treatments, sunscreen and skin maintenance products best for your skin type.
Abstracted from “Sun Hazards in Your Car” by Susan T. Butler, MD, The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal, VOl 29, 2011