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What the sun did to the face of a veteran truck driver

Jun 1, 2012 By Abraham

This is a 69-year-old man who drove a truck for 28 years, and was thus only exposed to the sun on the left side of his face. The New England Journal of Medicine offers a detailed medical description of his condition and recommends “the use of sun protection and topical retinoids [Vitamin A creams] and periodic monitoring for skin cancer.”

(via Reddit)


  1. CaughtOnFireOnce says:

    wow, makes me think. i am not a truck driver, but do, a lot of driving throughout the day…..

  2. A. says:

    I bet he has noise-induced hearing loss in that left ear too. Another occupational hazard for truck drivers.

  3. Mary says:

    Unfortunately, the people this story will benefit – young women who go to tanning beds and the tanning bed industry – will still deny the effects of the sun on skin.

    1. Meaghan says:

      My dad is a college professor, teaches biology, and in his Bio 101 class he always talks about skin cancer. He once was approached by twin siblings in his course who said their parents owned a tanning business that paid for their college and tanning was much safer these days and they resented him trashing it in his class. He said, “Okay, find me a dermatologist who will vouch for you.”

      They shut up.

      1. Nala says:

        I’m not saying that tanning is good for you per say, but I did go to a dermatologist that recommended that I went tanning once a week to help with my oily skin. I live in Michigan, so during the winter months I am unable to get the amount of sunlight on my skin needed to take care of my acne. I was actually tanning once a week for a while and it helped my skin. I however, wore spf into the tanning bed so I’m sure it affected me differently than those that wear oils.

        Not trying to argue, but take everything in moderation.

        1. Jodie says:

          Cocaine in moderation? I jest of course but when it comes to tanning beds, they are just dangerous.
          My sister is an ER nurse, a couple of years ago she had an aggressive melanoma removed. A little bit of sun baking for ten minutes, once a week during Summer wouldn’t hurt, she thought. She’d end up with a great tan. Now she avoids direct sunlight unless she’s protected.
          It’s like processed sugar, people are always saying ‘everything is fine in moderation’ but processed sugar is poison to our systems. It’s not good for us in any amount but we tell ourselves it’s ok because cake tastes great, candy is delicious.

        2. Noelle says:

          Surprising that she would recommend sun exposure as drying out your skin causes it to overproduce oils.

    2. Tink says:

      Makes you wonder. You see a lot of people go on about being overweight and being spectacularly mean to larger people (as if it’s their business). These same people don’t care half as much about smoking or tanning. Because society is shallow, we are much more accepting of unhealthy behaviour as long as it doesn’t affect our looks too much.

      There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat well or exercise; they are inherently good things in moderation. But I do get the impression there’s groups of people using the health card to cover up eating disorders, poor self esteem (a different body shape doesn’t make you a worthier person), or being shallow. Be fit, be thin, be whatever you want but be honest about why you want to be a certain way and don’t be mean to others.

  4. Mysty Maples says:

    Wow, always noticed my left arm being darker, but never thought about my face. Thank goodness foundation has SPF in it. It’s kind of odd that his right eye needs blepharoplasty but his left eye is more toned. Poor guy…

    1. Garper says:

      My guess would be that his left eye was so bad that insurance covered having it fixed but the right side would be considered “cosmetic” and therefore not covered.

    2. Tink says:

      I wouldn’t rely on foundation to protect you, the SPF in cosmetics is normally minimal, far below the 15-25 normally recommended as a minimum. I know, none of us will remember to apply suncream all the time, but particularly if you live in sunny climates, particularly if you’re pale and particularly if you spend a lot of time in the sun, it could make a big difference, both to ageing and to your life. Having malignant melanoma in the family, and being in science/health myself, I can say it’s vital.

  5. Fish Jones says:

    Oooooh boy.

    I sunscreen. A lot. And often. And today, I got rushed out the door before I had a chance to even go *into* the bathroom, let alone use anything in it.

    Next paycheck, I want to go get *another* thing of Sunscreen to carry with me in my backpack.

  6. Filipe says:

    I don’t think it can be true that he only had sun on the left side of his face… even driving on I-95 all the time, he would have to be facing south at least close to half the time… facing south with the sun setting would expose the right side of this face, and sunrises while facing north. And what about when he was facing west? My mom’s skin is dark from heavily tanning her whole life, she’s in her mid 50s and her skin is still that of someone in her 40s

    1. Susan says:

      But more sun damage only happens on the side where the window is open, so this fits. The glass might let through some UVA but not UVB.

  7. opiner says:

    Don’t believe it. Think it’s another fake story for a public service ad created by “ends justify the means” people.

    1. Tammy says:

      Yeah… cause the NEJM is a real rag … ! Sorry, this is totally believable for 28 years of skin damage, given the subject’s circumstances. I am sure you could verify it though, quite easily through the source listed. Just saying.

  8. Bell says:

    Favre–Racouchot syndrome is not uncommon, but this pattern is rare. I have seen it more on the central face. (I am a dermatologist) NEJM correctly recommended sun protection for him and it is unfortunate that in forums like this, sun protection gets interpreted as sunscreen use. Sunscreen is probably the most expensive and least effective form of sun protection.

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