truck driver skin damage

Truck driver sun damage is very real. Many people have seen the picture of a truck driver with sun damage on half his face. Unfortunately, the photo isn’t Photoshopped or altered in any way.

Truck Drivers and Sun Exposure

truck driver sun damage
Image credit: CBS News

You may have heard the phrase “truck driver wrinkles,” but the more technical term is unilateral dermatoheliosis.  What happens is that truckers are exposed to the sun every day. Due to the continued ultraviolet ray exposure, also called UVA radiation, the driver’s skin will eventually damage.

However, there’s also UVB damage that you must worry about, too.

The side of your face closest to the window suffers the most from these harmful rays, including:

  1. UVA rays are what people want to get a great tan. As the rays hit the skin, the skin color darkens by producing more melatonin in an attempt to stop skin damage from progressing.
  2. UVB rays are responsible for the burning of the skin, or sunburn. Higher levels of UVB rays cause the most damage to the skin and are responsible for truck driver wrinkles and aging.

Overexposure to both of these harmful rays is never a good thing.

Truck Driver Skin Damage Stats[RE1] 

Truckers are a unique study for skin damage because these professionals are exposed to the sun’s rays even when it’s cloudy outside. Whether it’s hot or cold outside, the rays are beaming through the windows at different levels.

A few things that all truckers should consider are:

  • The left side of the face is exposed to 20 times more UV rays than the right side
  • Damage can take 10 –  15 years before you really notice it
  • You can take preventative measures to stop the damage

For your own reference, the man in the photo that you saw with sun damage was behind the wheel for 28 years.

How to Protect Against Truck Driver Sun Damage

It’s easy to forget that your body is still exposed to the sun when you’re out on the open road. Taking steps to prevent truck driver sun damage is the best way to not only protect your skin but also protect against skin cancer.

Here’s how:

Wear Sunscreen

The most obvious and effective way to prevent sun damage is to wear sunscreen. Broad-spectrum sunscreens block both UVA and UVB rays.

Now, let’s talk SPF. Which level do you need? SPF 45 will block up to 98% of rays, but a higher level will offer more protection.

Truckers should consider using SPF 60 because of their daily and long-term sun exposure. Each day, you’re spending hours out in the sun, even if you don’t realize it. SPF 60 will give you excellent protection against damaging sun exposure.

SPF is just one piece of the equation, though. Experts say that your application of sunscreen is more important than the SPF. It’s important to reapply it regularly. For example:

  • Try applying sunscreen in the morning during your routine.
  • Reapply at lunch.
  • Reapply if you’re sweating or your skin gets wet.

Cover Up

Clothing and accessories can also help reduce sun exposure, such as:

  • Long-sleeved shirts or turtlenecks
  • Pants
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses

Covering up is a great way to prevent sunburns because it protects as long as you wear the items. You don’t have to worry about reapplying anything. 

Be Extra Cautious During Peak Hours

As a trucker, it’s not practical to avoid driving during peak hours (10 am – 2 pm). During these hours, the sun is the most intense. Be prepared by:

  • Reapplying sunscreen.
  • Putting on a hat, long sleeves and pants
  • Using sun visors
  • Wearing sunglasses

Protect Yourself Year-Round

Many truckers make the mistake of assuming that summer is the only time they need to worry about sun exposure. However, you’re just as likely to get a sunburn in the winter as you are in the summer. In addition, if there’s snow on the ground, you’re even more likely to get burned because the snow reflects the sun’s rays.

Continue applying sunscreen and covering up even during the winter months.

Invest in a UV Shield

Your truck’s window won’t filter all UV rays, but you can buy a UV shield that will. Alternatively, you may be able to get your windows tinted. Check with your employer and local laws to see if this is an option. Tinted windows are illegal in some states.

Visit a Dermatologist Regularly

Whether you’re a rookie or you’ve been on the road for years, it’s important to see a dermatologist regularly. A dermatologist can identify signs of skin cancer early on and take steps to treat it as soon as possible.

Your dermatologist can also provide tips on how to care for your skin and protect against sun damage.

Sunburn is yet another health risk of being a trucker. Applying sunscreen regularly, covering up and visiting your dermatologist can help prevent burns that can age your skin or even lead to skin cancer.

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