Sun, Sand and Sunscreen on your hands 

Protect your hands from ultraviolet radiation, a deadly environmental carcinogen

Dr Sampurna Roy MD


sun, sand and sunscreen on your hand




Are you planning to spend the day relaxing on the beach ? 

Oh you are so lucky!  I can see a big bottle of sunscreen lotion in your beach bag.

I want to know if you apply sunscreen lotion on the dorsal side of your hand as frequently as you apply it on other parts of the body.

I don’t mean to spoil your vacation.

Do you know that exposure to direct sunlight specially ultraviolet radiation is an important risk factor for developing carcinoma?

Dorsal aspect of the hand is a common site for development of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.  This area is usually exposed to excessive amount of ultraviolet radiation compared to other parts of the body.  Cutaneous carcinomas in this area are more likely to metastasize when compared to malignant skin lesions in different areas. 

Please read this excellent article: Sunscreen Use on the Dorsal Hands at the Beach

Donald B. Warren, Ryan R. Riahi, Jason B. Hobbs, and Richard F. Wagner, Jr., “Sunscreen Use on the Dorsal Hands at the Beach,” Journal of Skin Cancer, vol. 2013, Article ID 269583, 6 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/269583

According to Dr Warren et al several studies have evaluated photoprotective behaviors on anatomic regions that are frequently, partially or completely unprotected from ultraviolet radiation damage, such as the scalp, lips, and eyelids.

The dorsal hands, along with the face, forearms, neck, and legs receive the most sunlight exposure, but unlike the forearms and legs, the hands are often unprotected by clothing.

In lower latitudes during the midday hours, the dorsal hands are exposed to more sunlight than any other body part. 

This additional ultraviolet exposure may put skin of the dorsal hand at increased risk for developing skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is more common than basal cell carcinoma on the dorsal hand. It has been estimated that 58–90% of all hand malignancies are due to  squamous cell carcinoma.


Facts to remember from this article:


-Total skin protection from ultraviolet radiation exposure is the best primary prevention for decreasing the incidence of ultraviolet radiation related skin cancers,

- Previous research indicates that specific anatomic locations such as the lips, eyelids, and scalp are less protected by beachgoers.

-More public education focused on dorsal hand protection from ultraviolet radiation damage is necessary to reduce skin cancers in this location.

-Protection of the dorsal hands from sunlight may also delay or prevent the appearance of photoaging in this anatomic location.

-Media campaigns should focus on reaching younger demographics as this study found that the 18–34 year old population was the least likely to protect the dorsal hands. This younger population would potentially benefit the most from such photoprotective intervention due to less lifetime cumulative exposure to this frequently encountered environmental carcinogen.


These preventive measures can improve public awareness and hopefully reduce the risk of hand cancer.


Hope you enjoy a wonderful beach vacation with your family.


Excuse me, my dog is running away with my beach ball.


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