Should you wear sunscreen when you’re working from home?

If you upgraded yourself to a window view while setting up your home office, should you be lathering up with sunscreen before you boot up your screen? It’s a question many are wondering as the days get longer and the weather heats up. 

And the answer, dermatologists told Fox News, is yes.  

“Yes, you should wear SPF indoors if you’re sitting near windows, or in front of a computer screen, as you’re exposing yourself to potentially skin-damaging light,” Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, told Fox news. 

Even if the window is closed, you should use block, Mullans said. 

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“It is easy to believe that once we are indoors that we are protected from the sun,” Mullans said. “Not all glass is created equally. It is important to apply daily SPF 30 or higher because harmful UVA rays can penetrate windows.” 

Another dermatologist explained that windows typically offer good protection against UVB rays, but not UVA. Dr. Min Deng, a dermatologist with MedStar Health compared it to window tints on a car, which can also offer broad-spectrum protection against UVA rays. 

Being indoors behind a window doesn’t necessarily equal protection, one dermatologist warned.
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“We know that windows are not good at filtering out UVA,” she said, referencing a well-known New England Journal of Medicine image of a truck driver’s face, half of which had visible sun damage after years of exposure. 

And while it might seem like a great idea to set up your desk facing a window, Mullans said she advises against staying there all day, every day.

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“If you’re sitting by a window for an extended period of time, follow the sunscreen rule and re-apply every two hours,” she said. 

Deng agreed and said that those who have sun sensitivities or allergies, like patients with photodermatoses, should skip the window altogether. 

“Don’t sit in front of the window all day long without sunscreen,” Deng said. “If they are going to, at least put on sunscreen, reapply it as if you were outside, otherwise, move away from it a little bit.” 

Both dermatologists agreed that you should never skip sunscreen while you’re exposed to the sun, even if you’re wearing a mask as many areas are still exposed, Mullans added. 

“If concerned about using heavy sunscreen on the face, try using a light moisturizer with hyaluronic acid before mask-use to protect the skin’s barrier, and follow up with sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before heading outside,” she said. 

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Deng said she tells patients to “have fun in the sun,” but to do so safely. She recommends a zinc oxide-based sunblock and for patients to opt for cream rather than spray.