How glass can cause skin damage without drawing blood

Skin protection

Posted on 19/02/20

Allow me to tell you a short story about myself…

In my previous job, I used to be on an aeroplane as much as four times a week. Very often, long haul. Greta wouldn’t have been pleased.

I worked in the international part of a business that required me to visit different teams, factories, partners or customers abroad. I always chose to sit by the window because I was terrified of flying and for some reason, seeing what was going on offered moderate relief. Not sure how that logic stacks up if we were plummeting!?

Anyway, to help with my fear of flying, I saved up £200 to have a flying lesson in a small, Cessna plane. Confront your fears they say. So, my (now) wife sat in the back of the four-seater plane as I had a one-hour lesson with an instructor pilot. The logic was that my fear of flying might be conquered if I better understood how a plane worked and was clear about all the sounds and protocols. It was moderately terrifying but certainly worked. I have been a much more relaxed flier ever since.

The point of this story…

In 2014, a study from the University of California found that cabin crew and airline pilots have double the incidence of skin cancer compared to the general population.

In fact, one hour behind the cockpit at 30,000 feet is the equivalent to 20-minutes on a sun bed.

Lesson of the day? If you’re a pilot, wear sunscreen? Yes. Sort of.
However, I recognise there are very few pilot readers of this blog. In fact, I recognise there are very few readers of this blog altogether!

For those reading, there’s a broader message around skin damage.

The ultraviolet rays from the sun that reach the earth come in two forms: UVA and UVB.

UVA penetrates deeper into the skin’s dermis, damaging the proteins that give skin its tension and structure. This is ultimately what skin ageing and wrinkles are: a weaker or ‘flimsier’ sub-structure.

In addition, these UVA rays can also cause DNA damage in the skin and give rise to skin cancer.

The staggeringly, mind-blowing point is that UVA can pass through glass and therefore damage the skin even if you are inside.

That’s why pilots and cabin crew are at greater risk than the general population…

…and so was I on all those flights.

…and so too is anybody who sits by a window, beside a windscreen or behind glass as part of their occupation.

As any regular reader of this blog will have read, UVA is present every day, even in winter. Light touches your skin all year round. Men need to get over the misconception that sun damage can only happen on the beach. It’s a year round thing and now we now it can even be thing when you’re inside.

So, if your occupation or regular daily activities see you in any of these situations, please bear this in mind.

Even though you might be indoors, we strongly recommend wearing sun protection. It’s so easy to just use a moisturiser with SPF protection at the start of your day. Put it on after you wash, shower or shave and you’re done.

And if you do happen to be a pilot reading this, you might want to consider something more drastic: like shade, a snapback, sunglasses and a tube of LifeJacket SPF 50+ Sun Gel by the controls.

Thanks for reading. Until next week, over and out.

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