This picture of a 69-year-old trucker, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, reveals the horrifying effects of direct sun exposure. After driving a truck in nearly his entire life, doctors say this man developed dermatoheliosis, or a “thickening and wrinkling of the skin.” Since the sun’s rays easily penetrate window glass, the long hours of the sun beating down on the left side of his face caused pronounced skin damage.
More from the NEJM:
Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis. Chronic UVA exposure can result in thickening of the epidermis and stratum corneum, as well as destruction of elastic fibers. This photoaging effect of UVA is contrasted with photocarcinogenesis. Although exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays is linked to a higher rate of photocarcinogenesis, UVA has also been shown to induce substantial DNA mutations and direct toxicity, leading to the formation of skin cancer. The use of sun protection and topical retinoids and periodic monitoring for skin cancer were recommended for the patient.
According to Northwestern University dermatologist Jennifer Gordon, who is treating the man, he never wore sunscreen. Fortunately, he has not yet developed skin cancer, but his story is an important reminder to everyone about the importance of protecting your skin this summer.