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Steer Away From The Sun!

Hot rods, speedsters, racers and low riders! The 13th Annual Lonestar Round Up is today and tomorrow in Austin and offers some of the best vintage vehicle viewing here in Texas and beyond, made possible by Ship Vehicles and their sponsors. Whether you’re a collector, car enthusiast, stopping by to hear some music, or checking out how the experts plan their road trips, Sanova Dermatology would like to remind all the drivers how to protect themselves on the road, especially with the top down.

“I suppose seat belts and speed limits is what I’m expected to talk about,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, dermatologist and skin care expert at Sanova Dermatology, “but I always think about the sun.”

“No matter what your commute, many of us have jobs that require us to spend a good portion of our time driving. Throw summertime, road trips and vacations in and you quickly realize how much time you really spend in the car,” reveals Dr. Hanson. This means interactions with the sun. And with traffic in the mix, often longer interactions than we anticipate.

Cars and Your Skin

Those who drive long distances are constantly coming into contact with the bright rays of the sun. “This constant exposure to the sun can increase your risk for many things like skin cancer and rapid photoaging,” informs Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and Mohs surgeon in Austin, Texas.

“It’s interesting,” says Dr. Mamelak, “truck drivers, cabbies, people that drive for a living tend to show more sun damage to the left side of their faces. Studies have even shown that skin cancers are more common on the left side of the face than the right. This is the side that faces the window. The right side is shaded by the cabin of the truck and is at less risk.”

Though you are only partially exposed to the sun while driving in a car or truck, you are still at risk for skin complications. “Standard car windows don’t block all the harmful UV rays from the sun,” explains Dr. Hanson. “You still need to protect your skin.

What can you do?

One way to prevent sun damage while driving in your car is to get your windows tinted. Specific tints can filter the sun’s rays. However, it’s not a complete solution. “Most tints are not going to block all of the sun’s rays,” Dr. Mamelak states. “It is a partial solution to safeguarding your skin inside your vehicle.”

Taking appropriate measures to protect your skin while driving is still important. “Technically, driving is an outdoor activity, similar to golf, tennis, or running,” says Dr. Hanson, “so the same rules apply.

You must take the initiative to apply sunscreen, just as if you were going to be spending the day outside. If the sunroof is open and the windows down, make sure to cover up.

“Sure, my commute is quick, on most days,” says Dr. Mamelak. “but I can also tell you all the times I’ve been caught in a line up on MoPac with my arm hanging out the window. That’s why I tell my patients to keep a bottle of sunscreen in their glove compartment.”

These few sun safe strategies can control your amount of exposure and make you less vulnerable to the sun. Always remember to do what you can to prevent permanent and extensive damage to your body and skin.

How do you know if you already have sun damage?

Sun damage come in different shapes and sizes:

1. Brown spots, discoloration and pigmented spots and patches on the skin can be a sign of sun damage.

2. Red-brown patches on the sides of the neck is known as Poikiloderma of Civatte and arises from excessive sun exposure.

3. Increased skin laxity, wrinkles and sallowness to the skin are some of the most common changes seen with photoaging.

4. Rough scaly spots could be Actinic Keratoses, pre-cancerous lesions that develop in chronic sun-exposed areas

5. Non-healing, bleeding sores or atypical pigmented lesions could represent skin cancer, the end result of photo damage

What can you do?

There are a number of treatments available for sun damage, whether they be for skin maintenance, cosmetic rejuvenation or for skin cancer treatment. If you suspect you have sun damage related to driving or other outdoor activities, getting a skin evaluation by a board-certified dermatologist is a great first step.


To learn how to protect your skin or to have you skin evaluated for sun damage, contact us at Sanova Dermatology and set up a consultation with one of our dermatologists today!

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