Summer sunshine is a wonderful thing — warm, inviting and restorative. But daily exposure to the sun can come at a cost, and even a day at the beach can result in a painful sunburn or heat rash. Too much sun over a lifetime has also been directly linked to premature aging of skin. That link appears quite evident in a recent photograph making the rounds on the Internet.
The photo — seen here at The Toronto Star — is of 69-year-old truck driver Bill McElligott. After nearly 30 years driving a milk truck around Chicago with his left side window down, McElligott’s face is showing the wear and tear of daily sun exposure. Or at least one side is.
While his right side appears normal for his age, his left side is craggier and wrinklier — this side also happens to be the one that was exposed most significantly to sunlight as he did his daily rounds.
The Star reports that McElligott’s dermatologist Dr. Jennifer R.S. Gordon, diagnosed the condition as unilateral dermatoheliosis. Her explanation for the dramatic appearance of his skin on the left side: ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through the truck window’s glass, penetrating the top layers of the skin.
But just in case you thought tanning beds are a smarter, less aging option. Think again. Not only are the beds considered a risk factor for skin cancer, but they too may also age the skin prematurely. In fact, tanning beds typically emit higher levels of UVA rays, a form of light that is linked to skin damage when overdone. Skeptical? Check out this 20-year-old picture of the notorious “Tan Mom,” a.k.a. Patricia Krentcil (shown) that The Daily Mail recently dug up. (If you’re wondering who Krentcil is, she’s the New Jersey woman who was arrested for taking her five-year-old daughter to a tanning salon.)
Though the photo is of a fresh-faced Krentcil about 20 years ago — you can’t blame a person for aging — it begs the question of whether or not she’s sped up that process by frequenting tanning beds. It’s alleged that Krentcil, 44, goes to the tanning salon 20 times a month, yikes!