The face of sun exposure

Amazing photo shows effects of sun exposure on truck driver’s face


The New England Journal of Medicine published this photo of William (Bill) Edward McElligott which shows sun damage on one side of his face.
Photographer: The New England Journal of Medicine

  • By: EndPlay Staff Reports

If you don’t believe the sun can seriously harm your skin, take a look at William (Bill) Edward McElligott.

The right side of the veteran trucker’s face looks his actual age of 69. But the left side that got much more sun while he was on the road for nearly 30 years looks like that of an 86-year-old, with wrinkles and sagging skin.

An article in the April edition of The New England Journal of Medicine describes his condition in technical terms, and its web page includes a close-up photo of McElligott’s face.

“It would take me an hour to drive to work and an hour to come home,” McElligott told ABC News . “It was a semi-route, I’d have six to eight stops. … 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the road.”

McElligott suffers from unilateral dermatoheliosis, or photo-aging. The condition is caused by repeated, long-term exposure to UVA rays of the sun.

It took 15 years of that kind of exposure to the sun before McElligott noticed a difference in the sides of his face. He finally decided to quit ignoring the condition when his grandchildren kept on him about it.

“Only reason I went in, the kids were asking me what these bumps are and it’s hard to explain to little kids, so I went to see if I could have those bumps removed,” he told ABC News.

“It was very stark,” said Dr. Jennifer Gordon, a dermatology resident at UT Southwestern who saw McElligott while on a rotation at Northwestern in Chicago. “We are used to seeing photo damage, photo aging every day, (but) for it to be so one sided? We were taken aback.”

Gizmodo’s story on McElligott offered a reminder that UVB and UVA can cause DNA mutations leading to skin cancer. As sun exposure increases this time of year, it’s wise to use sun protection and topical retinoids, plus periodic monitoring for the apparition of skin cancer, according to the website.

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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About Sophia la Vespa

Seattle by Vespa!
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