Dermatologist Discusses UVA Skin Damage

Dermatologist discusses UVA skin damage

As a dermatologist, I am often asked what my top anti-aging recommendation is. Surprisingly to most, my answer to this common question is always sunblock. If you don’t believe me on the importance of sun-protection as an anti-aging regiment, just take a look at the evidence of people who have experienced one sided sun damage, and I am sure you will be convinced as well.

Do I Still Need Sunscreen If I Stay Inside?

“I am hardly in the sun or at the beach, so surely I don’t need to worry?” many people ask. However, not all sun exposure occurs at the beach or while having fun outside. In fact, you may be getting most of your sun damage when you don’t even realize it – such as when you are in your car.

In cars, windshields are laminated and are able to filter out UVA sun rays, but side windows do not have a protective filter. Therefore, patients in the US have more sun damage on their left side due to UVA radiation penetrating through the driver-side car window. In countries where the driver side is on the right, people develop more sun damage, skin precancers, and skin cancers on the right. The UV exposure is cumulative and skin exposure to sunlight through a window either in a car, at home, or in the office leads to significant damage.


The photograph on the left is a picture of a 69-year-old retired delivery truck driver. As you can see he has severe damage on the left side of his face from ultraviolet rays that came through the window of his truck that he had driven for 28 years. The photograph on the right is from a woman who worked next to a window on her left side for 15 years. Even though she worked inside, Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the upper layers of the skin.

Most people do not realize they can get damage through glass windows since UVB rays, which cause a sunburn, cannot penetrate through window glass. However, UVA rays that can, penetrate not only cause wrinkles, but also skin cancers. Llumar, FormulaOne, and 3M are just a few companies that make clear or tinted UV blocking films for car, home, or workplace windows. You can simply ask your car dealership to add this film to your car windows on your next service or contact a reputable window film installation company.

Doesn’t the Sun Produce Vitamin D?

One of the biggest debates recently about sun exposure is regarding Vitamin D. Most people today are testing low for vitamin D. However, our bodies can only manufacture a certain amount of vitamin D from the sun. After reaching its limit within minutes, further UV exposure has the reverse effect, breaking down vitamin D into inactive compounds. More than 5-8 minutes of tanning actually lowers vitamin D levels. Therefore, it is very important, especially in Florida, to wear sun-protective clothing (wide-brim hat, sunglasses, swim shirt) and sunblock. Make sure your sunblock is broad spectrum, has at least a SPF of 30, and is reapplied every few hours.

Discussing your skin concerns with a professional dermatologist will help you learn the best ways to care for your skin and tips to be proactive against sun damage and skin cancer. Give us a call today and book a consultation.