Skin cancer risk isn’t just limited to exposure from being outside. Americans receive a large portion of their sun exposure when they don’t even realize it, in their cars and inside the homes and offices.
Dermatologists have observed that patients in the US often have more sun damage on the left side of their faces than on the right. The research points to ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation penetrating through car windows. High UVA radiation is also present in homes and offices with unprotected glass windows.
The sun’s UV radiation is associated with about 90 percent of all skin cancers, UV radiation occurs in 2 forms UVA and UVB. Glass effectively blocks UVB, and windshields are specially treated to block UVA as well, but a car’s side and rear windows allow UVA to penetrate.
UV exposure is cumulative, and research has proven that skin exposed to sun shining through window glass, even in the office, can over time lead to significant skin damage.1,2 In a US study by Singer, et al, the researchers found asymmetric photodamage (sun- induced skin damage) on the face, with more brown pigment (color) and deeper wrinkles on the left.³ The more time subjects spent driving a vehicle, the more severe their damage on the left side. The opposite is present for right-hand drive countries.4 Certain precancers can turn into squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer.
There are several ways to protect yourself in a car, home and office. The first is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to your face, arms, neck and hands, about half an hour before you go driving. Because UVA passes through the window glass, make sure your sunscreen contains some combination of UVA-shielding ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, stabilized avobenzone, and ecamsule (MexorylTM). Protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants, UV-blocking sunglasses, and hats.
Another sun safety strategy is window tinting. Car window tinting is regulated in many states, so be sure to check the laws, but clear window film is available throughout the country. One study noted a 93 percent reduction in skin cell death when UV exposure was filtered through UV-absorbing auto glass.5 Some filmscan block 99.9 percent of UV rays.
Eclipse proudly sells and installs 3M and Johnson Window Films which are both recognized for UV blocking by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Here is the list of approved window film manufacturers.
- Moulin G, Thomas L, Vigneau M, Fiere A. Un cas unilateral d’elastose avec kystes et comedons de Favre et Racouchot. Ann Dermatol Venereol 1994;121:721-3.
- Humbert P, Mac-Mary S, Sainthillier J-M, et al. Assessment of cumulative exposure to UVA through the study of asymmetrical facial skin aging. Clin Int in Aging 2010; 5:277-84.
- Singer R, Hamilton T, Voorhees J, Griffiths C. Association of asymmetrical facial photodamage with automobile driving. Arch Derm 1994;130:121-123.
- Foley P, Lanzer D, Marks R. Are solar keratoses more common on the driver’s side? British Med J Clin Res 1986; 293:18.
- Bernstein EF,Schwartz M,Veihmeyer Retal. Measurement of protection afforded by ultraviolet-absorbing window film using an in vitro model of photodamage. Lasers in Surg & Med 2006; 38(4):337-42.