When I moved to Colorado from the Northeast several years back, I noticed a disturbing thing starting to happen – brown sun spots appearing on my hands and arms. I had always worn a hat to protect my face, but tended to neglect my hands and arms. Then I noticed in particular that the sun spots were appearing a lot more on my left arm than my right. I didn’t know what to make of it until, one day when I was driving, it all became clear. The sun beating down on my hand and arm through the driver’s side window was the culprit. I spent several hours a week driving and never even considered the implications of having my left hand at the mercy of the sun while holding the steering wheel. I have heard (but not yet substantiated) that in countries where the steering wheel is on the left side of car, skin cancer is more prevalent on the left side of the body, particularly the arm. Where the steering wheel is on the right side of the car, skin cancer is more prevalent on the right side of the body.
I had never liked the idea or, frankly, the feeling slathering my skin with chemical sun screens. And I always suspected that they were not quite as effective as advertised. Indeed, several articles in recent years point out that the SPF ratings are exaggerated and that in order to be effective, chemical sun screens have to be applied very liberally and very often. For years, dermatologists have told us sunscreen protects skin. Now, many people are questioning that advice after an environmental group challenged the sunscreen safety of many popular brands.
Patients are confused, said Dr. Darrell S. Rigel, a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University who is a skin cancer researcher. Ive had patients come in and ask, Am I harming myself by using it? Ive spent a lot of time talking to people about it.
The latest report comes from the Environmental Working Group, which claims that in an investigation of nearly 1,000 sunscreen products, four out of five offer inadequate protection from the sun or contain ingredients that may pose a health risk.
What they are doing is developing their own system for evaluating things, said Dr. Warwick L. Morison, professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins and chairman of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s photo biology committee, which tests sunscreens for safety and effectiveness. Using this scale to say a sunscreen offers good protection or bad protection is junk science.
What I preferred was something to wear to protect my hands and arms and my choice is sun gloves and a sun sleeve or sun sleeves. I have found that sun gloves are useful for pretty much any outdoor activity: fishing, hiking, cycling, gardening or golf. Easy to slip on and off, versatile UPF/SPF sun protection.
Take a look at an old angler’s hands and you’ll get a pretty good idea of why sun gloves and sun sleeves are a good idea. Of course, there’s always chemical sunscreen, but we already discussed the questionable effectiveness of it and it tends to make slippery work of casting and line control, and who wants coconut-scented flies, anyway? The solution is a light, comfortable, fingerless sun glove made from quick-drying, UPF 50+ nylon/spandex fabric. Sun Gloves are easy to wear and easy to slip on and off. Your hands will thank you.