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What is truckers arm? 5 Tips for Trucker Sun Exposure

Prolonged exposure to the sun is rarely a good thing. Sure people relax inside tanning beds all the time, go to the beach, and lounge poolside to soak up the rays for a nice tan. But there are moments when too much tan can occur, and truckers understand this all too well.

There’s even a term made for the condition that so many truckers have are victims of. Ever heard of truckers arm? And,  just what is trucker’s arm? 

If you spend any length of time doing a job where you spend any length of time behind the wheel, you’ve already got a pretty good idea where this is all going.

Trucker’s arm is a condition where the arms before darkened from having been on the driver’s side for too long. As you might think, this may happen to only one arm, predicated on the position and stance of the driver.

Let’s take a look at what can be done to prevent or alleviate truckers’ arm. 

Related: Accessories for Truck Drivers

What Is Trucker’s Arm?

Trucker’s arm is a slang term for a condition where the left arm of a driver is sun burned or darkened after having been driving for a long period of time. 

Essentially, trucker’s arm is a bad case of sunburn that occurs to the arm or arms of a truck driver. The physical characteristics are known to produce severe inflammation of the arms due to long hours spent in the same seated position while driving a truck.

It’s no different than other forms of sunburn, in this regard, and has the same symptoms.

The usual symptoms of a trucker’s arm tan can include the following:

  • Reddening of the arms – With trucker’s arm, the typical look makes the arm appeal almost as if one were wearing a sleeve. Have you ever seen people with darkened arms after pulling up their sleeves? It’s the same thing with the trucker’s arm, only more severe.
  • More extreme inflammation – Did you know that inflammation is one of the leading causes of all major illnesses? Trucker’s arm, when left untreated, becomes reddened to the point of producing inflammation. The symptoms are flaking or peeling of the skin, painful blisters, especially around the elbows and forearms, and a rash that seems to get worse when rubbed against a fabric piece of clothing.
  • Skin lesions – The technical term for this is actinic keratosis, a condition that can accompany sunburn and develop into marked areas of the exposed arm that appear scaly in texture, have raised warts or bumps, and annoying itchiness around the areas that won’t go away.

With all of these symptoms comes a greater risk of getting skin cancer, so be sure that you notice the problem early on before it manifests into something that can’t be avoided.

Wearing a long sleeve shirt?

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5 Tips to Prevent Sun Damage

Here’s what you can do to avoid or reduce trucker’s arm.

1. Use a good quality sunscreen

You can pick up just anything from the pharmacy, either. You’ll want to do your homework. The sunscreen should offer both UVB and UVA ray protection. Sometimes, brands don’t market themselves with the term and will instead go for terms such as “broad spectrum.”

The rays of the sun that cause the most damage to the skin are ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B, short for UVA and UVB. When a sunscreen is formulated to effectively reflect both of these harmful photons, it offers the user a broad spectrum of protection [1].

In addition to this, sunscreen may have an SPF rating on them, which stands for sun protection factor.

Though not all sunscreen products sold in the US will show this number many do. It indicates the level of UVA and UVB blockage. The higher the rating, the better protected you’ll be from the sun.

SPF 15 is the standard rating, so never buy a product that’s below this number. Sunscreens with an SPF rating greater than 30 are best. However, the FDA has shown that high-rated sunscreens can work to prevent skin cancer.

2. Wear an arm sleeve with a UPF rating of 40 or higher

Arm sleeves are great for truckers, don’t produce tons of sweat, and are very easy to clean. Many sleeves are marketed the same as sunscreens, only with UPF ratings. UPF is the ultraviolet protection factor, a scale beginning at 15 and going upward to 50.

While any sleeve with a 15 or greater UPF rating is good for sun protection, you’ll get the most blockage when the fabrics can successfully block at least 98.5% of harmful UVs. This is possible with UPF sleeves ranging from 40 to 50.

3. Install UV-blocking window tint

This might be a tricky one, depending on where you drive and whether or not your driving takes place in multiple states. Before placing any UV tint on your truck, be sure that doing so is in guidance with your CDL, the state in which you reside, and any federal laws that may exist regarding the tint you want.

For most, there shouldn’t be any issues. But UV tints on the door to your truck can significantly reduce side tan when driving. However, changing the tint might be a costly and time-consuming thing for you to do.

Be careful with how dark you decide to go on your window tint. No matter if you’re driving a commercial vehicle or any other vehicle, windows tinted lower than 34% are no longer legal which leave you open to getting a ticket.

4. Use other protective clothing

If you can’t wear a sleeve just yet and are driving in areas where the weather gets cool, don’t think that you’re not at risk of getting sunburn. Winter weather can be just as harmful to the skin as sitting on a rooftop with no protection in the middle of July.

UV rays are invisible and reflected when in contact with fresh snow. Driving in these conditions on a sunny day when the snow hasn’t melted yet can spell trouble for your arms. To prevent sunburn, wear something when you’re driving in these conditions, even if the weather isn’t hot out.

Keep this in mind;

Cheap shirts don’t last very long and will tend to fade rather quickly with direct sun exposure even if the window is rolled up. 

5. Change your driving schedule, if possible

You probably can’t do this one, but if you can, changing your driving schedule to operate at hours when the sun isn’t too high in the skin can reduce reddening. You may have to drive at night, or during twilight hours as an alternative. But not only will you avoid potential rush hour traffic, but you also won’t have to watch your left arm changing color while sitting in it.

Truckers Arm Summary – Protect Your Skin at All Times

With sunburn on the arms or any other part of your body, prevention is the best remedy. Thanks to advances in sunscreens and the clothing that truckers wear to guard against UV rays, there’s plenty that can be done to keep more serious conditions. The best part? No more truckers arm!

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