Truck Drivers and Skin Damage — Years of Sun Exposure


Myths about UVA and UVB Rays

As a professional flatbed truck driver, you get a lot of sun exposure every day, and it’s mostly to the left side of your face and your left arm.  Here are some common myths about sun damage.

I can’t get a sunburn in the winter.

False.  UVA rays are not diminished by cooler air temperatures.  In fact, if there is snow on the ground, these rays actually reflect off the snow and become more intense.

I can’t get a sunburn on a cloudy day.

False.  Clouds offer little filter as well.  Up to 80% of UV radiation can penetrate cloud cover.

I can’t get a sunburn under water.

False.  Much like clouds, the sun’s rays are actually intensified under water.

I don’t need sunscreen under my clothing.

False.  Most clothing provides very little sun protection.  A standard white t-shirt offers an SPF value of about 7, at best.  If the shirt is wet, its SPF value drops to about 3.

SPF 30 is twice as strong as SPF 15.

False.  When it comes to SPF numbers, dismiss all logic.  Your safest bet is this rule of thumb:  The higher the SPF number, the smaller the difference between their respective protection values.  In other words, since SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, it’s safe to go with 30 or higher.

Signs of Skin Damage

Signs of skin damage are similar to signs of normal aging, except they happen faster than they should.  Thickening skin, facial wrinkles, a loose leathery look to the arms, fine wrinkles that disappear when stretched, blotchy complexions and sun spots are all signs of sun damage.  Permanent tan lines from sunglasses, wrist watches, short sleeve shirts and wedding rings are also tell-tale signs.

This unretouched, actual photo of a 69 year old man who drove a truck for 25 years illustrates the effect of sun damage to truck drivers.


Preventing Skin Damage from Sun Exposure

Why is this image so compelling?  While truck drivers might not care about wrinkles, they should care about skin cancer.  The same harmful UV rays that cause wrinkles also cause skin cancer.  These UV rays can penetrate glass, cloud cover, and even cheap sunglasses.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their life.  This risk increases with those whose jobs expose them to more sun, like truck drivers, construction workers, landscapers and painters.  Preventing skin damage starts with limiting exposure to the sun.

Install a UV shield.

Your window does not filter all UV rays, but there are products you can put on your windows that will.

Wear UV rated sunglasses.

Saving a few dollars on cheap sunglasses might be tempting, but your eyes are even more delicate than your skin, and protecting them should be a priority. And lastly…

Wear a 30 SPF sunscreen every day.

And reapply sunscreen when necessary.  No preventative measures taken today are in vain.  Sun damage is irreversible.

Truck drivers, please share below any tips you have for reducing your exposure to skin damage.  We know this is a career you love and we like to see truck drivers taking a proactive approach to their health!