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How to Prevent Sunburn While Driving

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With temperatures on the rise, people are wearing fewer clothes. Heavy coats, scarves, boots, and layers have given way to short sleeves, shorter pants, and sandals.  And, less clothes equals more skin exposed.

Yes, that’s right; this is your reminder to be smart about sun protection.

Now, people are pretty good(ish) about applying sunscreen (every two hours!) while at the beach, a water park, or spending the day outdoors. But, most people forget that day-to-day sun protection is crucial to preventing sunburn and sun damage. Even if the only time you spend outside during the daytime is in a car commuting to and from work, it’s important to slather on the SPF. Your vehicle may be chockfull of safety features and glass that shields some or a lot (depends on the car) of the sun’s harmful rays, but your skin still needs an extra boost from sunscreen and smart sun care practices.

According to a study by the American Academy of Dermatology, “nearly 53 percent of skin cancers in the U.S. occur on the left, or drivers’ side of the body.” The study’s co-author Susan T. Butler, MD,  also states, “The increase in left-sided skin cancers may be from the UV (ultraviolet) exposure we get when driving a car.”

A good first step to getting better sun protection while driving or riding in a car is to have window film applied to the car’s windows, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Foundation experts explain that UV radiation presents itself in two forms—shortwave UVB and long-wave UVA rays—yet, only the UVB rays can be successfully blocked by glass.

“Although car windshields are partially treated to filter out UVA, the side windows let in about 63 percent of the sun’s UVA radiation; rear windows are also unprotected, leaving back seat passengers exposed. Transparent window film screens out almost 100 percent of UVB and UVA without reducing visibility, and is available in all 50 states. If you have window film installed, remember that it protects you only when the windows are closed,” say the Foundation experts.

They also advise you to choose a sunscreen that boasts a SPF rating of 15+ and a combo of these UVA-blocking ingredients—avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, ecamsule, and zinc oxide; keep the bottle in the car for easy applications. Don some stylish and UVB- and UVA-blocking sunglasses, opt for long sleeves, and forget about the sunroof and convertible. But, if you can’t resist the open top, make sure you apply sunscreen to your face, scalp, and neck, and sport a wide-brimmed hat that measures three inches or more all around.

News Source: Skin Cancer Foundation