You’re probably well aware of all the awful factors that travel can have on your skin. From dry skin to puffy under eyes, we usually arrive at our final destination looking a little less than glowing. But there’s actually another side effect of air travel that we bet you never thought of: sun damage.
That’s right. While you might feel shielded from direct sunlight inside an airplane, it doesn’t matter because the altitude that planes fly at enter a thinner ozone layer, so radiation dramatically increases. “As we increase in elevation, the intensity of the ultraviolet rays are more intense as there is less distance for them to attenuate and weaken as they come down to sea level,” says Fort Lauderdale, FL, dermatologist Will Richardson, MD. That explains why there are more instances of skin cancer for people who live in areas of higher elevation, like in the southwest.
“People immediately say, ‘Well, I’m inside the plane, so it can’t hurt me,” says Dr. Richardson. “Harmful UVA rays that cause melanoma and aging of the skin pass through standard plate glass.”
But don’t worry, there are still ways to protect yourself. Wear an SPF of at least 30 while you fly and wear protective clothing and sunglasses. Another tip—put the airplane shade down to block out the damaging rays and avoid direct contact. Safe travels.
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