Can you tell which half of this man’s face has been exposed to more sunlight?
Just in case you thought that we’ve been pulling your leg about the importance of SPF, here’s a picture for you to consider: this 69-year-old gentleman’s face has been exposed to significantly more sunlight on one half of his face for 25 years. Can you tell which side is which?
The man is suffering from a condition called dermatoheliosis (also known as photoaging), which occurs after constant exposure to UVA and UVB rays. He had been a truck driver for 28 years, over which time the left side of his face was consistently exposed to sunlight streaming through his left window. As a result, the left side of his face underwent extreme premature aging. His case was discovered and researched by dermatologists at Northwestern University, and their findings were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Here’s a snippet from their report:
A 69-year-old man presented with a 25-year history of gradual, asymptomatic thickening and wrinkling of the skin on the left side of his face. 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. Findings were consistent with the Favre–Racouchot syndrome of photodamaged skin, known as dermatoheliosis.
The patient reported that he had driven a delivery truck for 28 years. 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.
The recommended treatment for this damage? Using sun protection and topical retinoids. It’s a stark reminder of why it’s so important to wear sunscreen (and a hat!).
Are you as terrified as we are?
Start wearing sunscreen now! We like NIA 24’s ultra-protective lotion, which also helps reverse sun damage.