Is Sunscreen Really Important?

A 69-year-old former truck driver shows the effects of sun exposure on one side of his face. CREDIT: Jennifer Gordon / New England Journal of Medicine

Ever wonder what could happen to you if you don’t wear sunscreen?

Look at this guy, who had exposure to the sun on only one side of his face for 28-years driving a truck.

Originally reported in the The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) this man, who is 69 years old “received UVA sun-damage through the window of his truck.” The article say, “The physical examination showed hyperkeratosis with accentuated ridging, multiple open comedones, and areas of nodular elastosis. Histopathological analysis showed an accumulation of elastolytic material in the dermis and the formation of milia within the vellus hair follicles,” and later states, “chronic UVA exposure can result in thickening of the epidermis and stratum corneum, as well as destruction of elastic fibers.” If you’re interested, there is an interview with the patient’s doctor on

This underscores the need for sunscreen, even if you are not sun-bathing or spending the afternoon outdoors. Just ultraviolet light that comes through your car windows every day can cause severe skin damage and risk of skin cancer.

I wear sunscreen every day, even in the winter. There are many moisturizers with sunscreen in them. But even if you don’t plan to wear it every day, keep a travel-size bottle of sun screen in your bag, or some individual use sunscreen wipes so if the sun is beating down on you unexpectedly, you can just pull out a wipe and easily apply sunscreen.

Enjoy a happy, safe, and skin-damage free summer!

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