Preventative Tips, Melanoma Awareness, Skin Cancer

Do I need sun protection if I work indoors?

Understanding the risks of skin cancer and melanoma for office workers

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 15/02/18
Blog Do I Need Sun Protection If I Work Indoors

The short answer is ‘yes’. You’re still at risk of skin damage while travelling to work and during lunch breaks – even if you’re only out in the sun for a few minutes. What’s more, if your job involves a lot of driving, the risk of skin cancer is even greater.

In fact, recent research shows that indoor workers have a higher incidence of malignant melanoma than outdoor workers. It is thought this is because cancer growth could be linked to occasional exposure to short periods of intense sunlight, such as at the weekend or while on holiday.

Even though some experts believe it’s important to get 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure several times a week so your body can make enough Vitamin D, in summer months your skin can be damaged in just minutes in the harsh New Zealand sun.

So make a habit of applying sunscreen every morning during summer, even when you’re going to work. And if you’re walking home from work or taking a lunch break in the sun, apply more. It’s also a good idea to keep a hat and sunglasses in your bag at all times.

And if you’re concerned about a mole or spot anywhere on your skin (not just the areas that get a lot of sun), book a MoleMap as soon as possible.

Indoor Workers Are In High Risk To Get Skin Cancer

Am I safe in the sun if I’m behind glass?

While you might think that being bathed by rays of sunshine through your office, home or car window will give a healthy dose of Vitamin D, unfortunately that’s not the case.

Your body needs specific UVB rays to help it manufacture Vitamin D, but unfortunately, these wavelengths are blocked by standard glass windows.

However, far more dangerous UVA rays CAN penetrate through glass (and clouds) and they can also penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays. UVA rays cause premature aging and wrinkling and are primarily responsible for skin cancer.

All the more reason to wear sunscreen and/or cover up if your desk is in direct sunlight during the day – or ask if you can move.

If your job involves driving a lot during the day, we have one simple message: cover up! You only need to look at this photo that’s been doing the rounds on Facebook to see what driving can do to your skin in the long-term!

Sun Damage New England Journal Of Medicine

Image: New England Journal of Medicine

These days, front windscreens are usually treated to reduce UVA penetration, but be aware that side windows don’t offer protection.

So if you’re in the car often during summer, wear sunglasses and long sleeves and apply sunscreen. If the sun is streaming through a side window, flip your sun visor to the side to protect your face and neck. You can also have side windows treated to block nearly all UV rays.

And remember, this also applies to children or passengers in the back seat!

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