The man on the picture, William McElligott, spent 28 years of his life driving a delivery truck in Chicago. Only the left side of his face was exposed to the sun, with the result that it now looks much older than the right side. His case is a rare reminder of the aging effects of the sun, but also of the need to take precautions when working under certain conditions.
McElligott, now 66, went to the doctor only when his grandchildren noted the wrinkles on his face. Two researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago, examined his condition, which they describe as ‘unilateral dermatoheliosis’, also known as ‘the Favre–Racouchot syndrome of photodamaged skin’.
‘Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis,’ they write in their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. ‘Chronic UVA exposure can result in thickening of the epidermis and stratum corneum, as well as destruction of elastic fibers. (…) Although exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays is linked to a higher rate of photocarcinogenesis [the main cause of cancer], UVA has also been shown to induce substantial DNA mutations and direct toxicity, leading to the formation of skin cancer.’
McElligott probably wasn’t aware of the risks he was taking with sun exposing as, unlike UVB rays, UVA rays rarely cause sunburn. But this image will greatly help raise awareness of the importance of sun protection.
Source: The Guardian
Gordon, J., & Brieva, J. (2012). Unilateral Dermatoheliosis New England Journal of Medicine, 366 (16) DOI: 10.1056/NEJMicm1104059
Skin Cancer and Sun Safety