Trucker's Face Shows Damaging Effects Of Sun

After 25 years on the road veteran trucker Bill McElligott's face shows the staggering effects of prolonged exposure to the sun. While the right side of his face looks his age (69), the left side is wrinkled and sagging from years of sun damage through the window of his truck. Note to self: Sunscreen.

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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. Although exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays is linked to a higher rate of photocarcinogenesis, UVA has also been shown to induce substantial DNA mutations and direct toxicity, leading to the formation of skin cancer. The use of sun protection and topical retinoids and periodic monitoring for skin cancer were recommended for the patient.

Jennifer R.S. Gordon, M.D.
Joaquin C. Brieva, M.D.
Northwestern University, Chicago, IL