Indoor workers sitting beside windows are in danger of developing skin cancer down one side of their face from harmful UVA rays which travel through glass, a leading consultant dermatologist has warned.
Sunblock should be worn indoors all year around to protect from the rays which also penetrate car windows, leaving those who drive a lot at risk too, according to Rosemary Coleman.
The skin expert in the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin says we should not underestimate the strength of the sun in Ireland and wear factor 50 in an effort to decrease rates of skin cancer. Ireland has the 14th highest rate in the world.
“It’s the office workers who go out for a blast of sun at lunchtime when the UVA index is at its highest that are the people getting more skin cancers than those who work outside,” she said.
“I find few of my patients seem to know that the UVA rays travel through glass, travel through cloud and travel through car windows.
“I have observed a number of people who come into me with severe sun damage down one side only and I discover they are drivers or indoor workers such as primary school teachers.
“It’s these teachers that often sit at the same desk in the same classroom for years and years with the sun coming in on one side of them. Secondary teachers move around more to different classrooms.
People who drive for a living should also be mindful of the sun coming through the vehicle’s windows, she says.
Depending on the make and model of the car, the windscreen will protect you from UVA rays up to 90% but side windows will only protect you about 40%/
“I always recommend that people should keep sun block in the car at all times and people who drive a lot should wear sunblock gloves which protect hands from ageing.”
Dr Coleman also warns not to underestimate the strength of the sun here.
“The Irish have a very high tendency to think our sun is weaker because we get less of it. In fact the Irish sun has a very high UV index. Ireland has the 14th highest rate of skin cancer in the world, which is amazing when you consider that New Zealand is top, followed by Australia. We have bad sun practices here. My philosophy is to look at sunscreen as the best anti-ageing moisturiser you can get and wear it 365 days a year, regardless of weather. Get into a habit of automatically putting it on each morning.
“Use factor 50 as studies show the average person puts on so little that they are only actually getting a factor of 19.27. You have to put on almost a full teaspoon onto your face to get factor 50 strength and most people don’t do that. So put factor 50 on and reapply every two hours if you’re outside.”