The recently featured a 69-year-old male truck driver who suffers from . Lots of studies warn against the impact of sun damage, but what makes this one so interesting is the strange before/after effect particular to the subject. The 69-year-old truck driver was exposed to sun far more on the left side of his face, where the damage is accelerated compared to the right side of his face. For 28 years, the man was hit with ultraviolet A (UVA) damage through the window of his truck. Although ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can lead to skin damage, UVA rays have been more associated with Situm, M., Buljan, M., Cavka, V., et al. Department of Dermatology and Venereology, University Hospital Sestre Milosrdnice, Zagreb, Croatia. Collegium Antropologicum, 2010 Apr;34 Suppl 2:9-13. The man was advised to use sunscreen and other topical agents after the study.

It's Always Sunny — Why It Matters

Sun Damaged Face Other studies have found similar associations between lifetime sun exposure and skin aging. People younger than 50 have , all the more reason for people in their prime to lather on the sunscreen.The driver's case shows why it’s important to use sunscreen, stay covered, and avoid sun when it's at its highest point. This is especially important for people who are constantly exposed to UVA rays Green, A.C., Williams, G.M., et al. Queensland Institute of Medical Research, PO Royal Brisbane Hospital, Queensland, Australia. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2011 Jan 20;29(3):257-63. Of course, the study is limited to one special case subject, so it’s hard to extrapolate the findings to the general public. The article also did not indicate if there were any other contributing factors to the skin damage, such as use of sunscreen or sun exposure when not on the job.

To UVB or Not to UVB — The Need-to-Know

The study is a clear call to make sure to stay covered even when sipping coladas and having summer fun. Wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher protects the skin against dangerous UVA/B rays. Applying about (about the same amount as a shot glass) before going outside and will help keep skin healthy. Also look out for labels on sunscreen bottles on what kinds of rays the skin is being protected from. But what the heck is the difference between the two? Here are the players:

  • UVA: These are more harmful because they’re able to , such as the truck driver’s vehicle, offices, and houses. This also allows them to and effect connective tissue and blood vessels, causing skin aging and . UVA waves make up 90 percent to 95 percent of the that reach the earth’s surface year round. People are even susceptible to UVA damage through some cotton clothing. UVA is also the ray found in most tanning salon booths.
  • UVB: These are found in 5 percent to 10 percents of the that reaches the earth’s surface, primarily between . These waves can be blocked by windows and glass. UVB is primarily responsible for . That’s when SPF — an indication of how long it will take UVB rays to redden the skin after applying sunscreen — comes in handy. UVB rays are also found in tanning booths.

Sunscreen isn’t the only protection out there, though. Wearing a or sunglasses are always options. When possible , especially midday when those UVB rays are waiting to pounce. To avoid the truck driver’s incident, such as in houses and cars to protect against skin damage. To enjoy more time outside in the sun, abide by these actions. And remember — have fun!

Photo: Jennifer Gordon and Meghan Dubina