The Perils of the Trucker’s Tan

We’re rapidly approaching the month of May, and hot, sunny days are on their way. If you want to avoid sunburns and odd-shaped moles that call for a trip to the dermatologist, it’s time to break out the sunscreen. Yet the first sunburn remains a seasonal tradition for many of us. In fact, about a third of U.S. adults get sunburned every year – and men with lighter skin are at the highest risk for skin cancer.

Mow the lawn and spread some mulch on an overcast day, and you can still end up with a farmer’s tan the next morning. Lose track of time on the water, and you’re likely to turn into a beet-red lobster like the tourists we see regularly in our beach town.

Sometimes, though, the effects of sun damage take much longer to show. Take the story of this man, a 69-year-old trucker who’d been on the road for nearly three decades. Countless miles later, he found himself with deep wrinkles and significant skin damage on just the left side of his face. He has become a nameless poster child/cautionary tale for the New England Journal of Medicine.trucker's tan

The trucker’s tan is unique. What you end up with depends on what direction you’re driving in and how the sun hits you through the windows. Usually, that means one arm and one side of your face are far more tan – or sunburnt – than the other!

trucker's tanWe all know how to avoid sunburn, and yet we often neglect to do it: keep your skin covered; put on clothes with sun-protective fabrics (long sleeve if you can);  wear lots of sunscreen; then, reapply, reapply, reapply, especially if you’re sweating – UV rays can damage your skin in just fifteen minutes. In addition to sun protection, vitamin A can help. It’s also wise to get frequent screenings for skin cancer.

Wondering if you can still use that goopy sunscreen from last year? Check the expiration date. Expired sunscreen doesn’t work anymore, and worse, it can irritate your skin. If you’ve been keeping yours in a hot vehicle, the shelf life is even shorter.

As it turns out,  we love our trucker’s hats for good reason. A high-quality trucker’s hat doesn’t just allow you to rock your logo and identify fellow hard-working people. It also protects your face from harmful UV rays and skin cancer – but if you’re wearing your cap backwards, don’t forget that part in the middle!

Fuel for Thought,