Don’t Believe the Sun Causes Premature Aging? Here’s Proof

This picture of Bill McElligott, a truck driver who's been working for almost 30 years, shows how UVA rays transmitted through the window on his side of the truck and caused sun damage to the side of his face.

You know when you go on a daylong road trip and realize, hours later, that one arm is tanned (or burned) from resting on the windowpane, and the other is still as pale as when you left?  Now imagine the disparity between one arm and the other after a 28-year road trip. I know, I know: No one goes on 28-year-long road-trips. But technically, this 69-year-old man did.

He was a truck driver for 28 years, which means he got a lot of sun on the left side of his face, while the right side remained safely in the shade.

A study in The New England Journal of Medicine examined his condition, which is called Unilateral Dermatoheliosis. According to the study’s authors, that means “gradual, asymptomatic thickening and wrinkling of the skin.”

How does it happen? Chronic exposure to the sun’s UVA rays. According to the authors, “Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis.” Essentially, spending a lot of time in the sun will age your skin prematurely (or half your skin, in this case).

How could it be prevented? Sunscreen would help.

Next: The Best Mineral Sunscreen to Reflect the Sun’s Harsh Rays

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada