The driver’s left side is the most vulnerable!

Researchers from New York’s Stony Brook University recently found that the average American spends approximately 80-100 minutes driving, posing a “considerable health risk,” as car windows do not provide full protection from the sun’s dangerous rays.  Car windows block UVB rays, which cause sunburns and blisters, but they do not block UVA rays, which cause aging.  BOTH types of rays contribute to the development of skin cancer.

As dermatologists, we consistently see more sun damage on the left side of the body than the right side of the body due to driving, because the left side of the body is exposed while driving.  In fact, one study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that skin cancer in the United States occurs on the left side of the body 53% of the time.  This holds true for the right side of the body in parts of Europe as well as Australia, because the right side of the body is exposed while driving.

How can we avoid such sun exposure while driving?  Take the following precautions…

-Apply sunscreen daily, whether sunshine or snow.  Sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours while outside. It should be applied even more frequently if swimming or sweating, usually every 40-80 minutes, depending on the type of sunscreen.  A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is recommended, as SPF below 15 does NOT prevent skin cancer.

-Wear protective clothing when possible, i.e. long sleeves, hats, etc.

-Apply UV-blocking films to your car’s windows.

Amy Betschart, PA-C


The Columbus Dispatch: Driver’s left side most vulnerable

FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreens

Posted in: Uncategorized