Skin expert warns of LDE – lorry drivers ear!

06 September 2018

Britain’s lorry drivers are used to taking on board rules and regulations to keep themselves and other road-users safe, but the long, hot summer has given them something else to worry about.

As they make their way up and down the highways and byways of a sun-soaked Great Britain, many drivers are winding down their window in an attempt to keep cool.

But, says Consultant Dermatologist Dr Jo Gach, they are unwittingly exposing the right side of their face to far too much direct sunlight and increasing their chances of developing skin cancer in later life.

And it is the tip of the ear that suffers most damage – “an extremity that seems to receive very little protection,” explained Dr Gach.

She continued: “It might sound odd but if the sun is on the right hand side of a driver, it will burn the right hand side of their face. Lorry drivers are at more risk than others because, by the nature of their job, they can spend many hours continually exposed to dangers of UVA rays on just one particular part of their body.

“The right side of their face will take the most of the sun and the ear will suffer more than any other part. There isn’t a proper medical term for it but most dermatologists who deal with skin cancer will be aware of ‘lorry drivers ear’.”

Dr Gach, who holds regular clinics at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, Birmingham, West Midlands said drivers should be extra diligent when it comes to applying sunscreen to their face, but she added that a lightweight hat that shades the ears was probably the best way of protecting the ear during a long day on the road.

She explains: “Even if they apply sunscreen, it is my guess they won’t be able to re-apply it as often as necessary, so a hat really is a good alternative.” 

Even with the window up, the sun rays are dangerous because although glass blocks UVB rays which can cause sunburn, it doesn’t - unless specially coated or tinted - block UVA rays which penetrate deeper and can cause skin damage and skin cancer.

As for the sun shining from the other side, to that of the driver, Dr Gach points out it is only a temporary relief, as most long distance drivers will be - at some part of their day - in the direct line of the sun.

“We tell sunbathers not to stay out in the sun for more than 30 minutes at a time, yet lorry drivers can be exposed to harmful rays for much of their day. Wearing a hat is just one common-sense way of keeping themselves better protected,” said Dr Gach.

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