Shocking sun damage exposed by UV photo technology as drivers warned of 'white van tan'

Motorists are being urged to cover up before jumping behind the wheel as the UK continues to bask in the hot weather.

Skin cancer charity Melanoma UK has teamed up with Confused.com for an experiment to show the extent of sun damage to the skin which cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Research has shown that one in five drivers have suffered sun burn while travelling in the car, while 49% of were unaware you could fall victim to sun damage while in the car with the window closed.

Many drivers aren't taking precautions before getting behind the wheel, with 19% of drivers never applying an SPF to their skin while in the UK. In addition, one in seven drivers have admitted to sticking their arm out of the window to catch some rays - the 'white van tan'.

Dr Christian Aldridge, leading dermatologist and representative from Melanoma UK, explained that glass doesn't protect the skin from UV radiation. Since the sun rays can pass through, motorists are at risk of asymmetrical sun damage, which can lead to wrinkles, leathering, sagging, brown age spots and skin cancers.

To showcase how the sun can affect drivers, Confused.com and Melanoma UK tested the skin of two British drivers – comparing the right side of their face, shoulders and arms to the left which is more shaded when driving.

A closer look using UV photo technology.

A closer look using UV photo technology.

Dr Aldridge carried out the examination on individuals using UV photo technology to pick up the areas of sun damage. Results taken from one driver detected pre-cancerous cells on his right forearm - the arms most typically exposed to the sun - which was consequently treated.

The research also highlighted the protective benefits of sunscreen when driving.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, regularly uses cosmetics containing SPF had little to no sun damage in comparison when tested.

She added: "We have been very fortunate to have had some warm weather the past few weeks, but many drivers don’t realise they could burn even through the windows of their car!

The experiement was carried out by Confused.com and Melanoma UK.

The experiement was carried out by Confused.com and Melanoma UK.

“Our experiment highlights how important it is to apply sun cream in this weather, especially if you’re a frequent or commercial driver.

"With one in five drivers having suffered with sun burn while travelling in the car, applying sunscreen before jumping behind the wheel is equally as important as if you are sunbathing.”

The findings of the experiment also revealed that our attitudes towards the sun change as we age. Young adults are more carefree when it comes to skincare in the sun - almost one in four (23%) 18-24 year-olds say they never apply an SPF while in the UK, compared with one in eight (12%) 35-44 year-olds, the age group most likely to apply protection.

But the over-55s are worse, with 25% of adults in this age group saying they don’t apply sun cream whether inside or out of a car even if they weather is nice in the UK - the highest percentage of all age groups.

The condition of the skin revealed by UV photo technology.

The condition of the skin revealed by UV photo technology.