If you drive in Los Angeles, your risk of skin cancer may be higher than you want.

Sun exposure while driving can increase skin cancer risk.

Sun exposure while driving can increase skin cancer risk.

Let’s face it. If you live in Los Angeles, there is a very good chance that you drive a car on a daily basis.  Although automotive windshield glass can effectively block UVA and UVB sun rays, untreated side windows  still allow UVA rays to penetrate though to your skin.  As a result, car drivers in the United States tend to develop significantly more sun damage on the left side of their faces. Cumulative sun exposure (even in the enclosed space of your car) can result in an increased amount of wrinkle formation, skin sagging (due to a loss of elasticity), brown “age” spots, and even skin cancer formation. This can include an increased risk for Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma or even pre-melanoma (i.e. melanoma in-situ).

So what can you do to reduce your risk?

1) Apply sun-screen (with SPF 15 or higher) to any sun-exposed skin areas. To make your life easier, and increase your own compliance, keep a bottle of sunscreen handy in your car’s glove box.  It will be helpful to check your sunscreen and make sure that it contains one or more ingredients that block UVA rays…such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobezone and ecamsule. You may have to reapply sunscreen several times over the course of the day, depending on your activity level and the amount of sweating that you do.

2) Wear protective clothing when possible. This can include long-sleeved shirts, sunglasses (with UV protection), and brimmed hats. Hats are particularly important for patients with thinning hair or who are bald so that the scalp skin remains protected as well.

3) Tint your windows…when possible…and if legal. There are window tints that will block UVA rays.  In California, it is legal to have a light tint on the side windows. However, you should check with your local law enforcement agency to make sure that your tinting will be in compliance with local laws so that you do not receive a ticket.

4) Pixel laser resurfacing. Although having a Pixel fractionated erbium laser treatment will not prevent any sun exposure that you have already had, it can reduce the visible signs of sun damage on your face and hands. Pixel treatments will smooth out many fine lines, and can completely resurface your skin. However, Pixel treatments will not reduce your relative risk of developing skin cancers.


*photos on this post are not actual patients of Dr. Brenner.

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