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Madrid, 4 July 2023-. During the months of July and August, the body not only needs a well-deserved vacation, but also proper sun protection. The arrival of summer can see days at the beach, long walks, afternoons around the swimming pool and, in general, a high degree of exposure to the sun that, without protection, can cause damage and complications to the skin. Some sunburns are aggressive lesions that, if repeated and over the long term (20-30 years), can lead to cancer1. In Spain, numbers of skin cancer cases are growing at an accelerating rate: it is estimated that some 78,000 cases are diagnosed each year2, and that diagnoses of cutaneous malignant melanoma will exceed 8,000 in 20233. Despite its obvious frequency, this remains a preventable tumour; that is, with early detection and treatment, the prognosis is generally good.

Fortunately, society as a whole is becoming more aware of the dangers of exposure to ultraviolet rays and the need for adequate protection. Use of creams and sunscreens is recommended throughout the year, especially during the summer months. However, we still need to raise awareness concerning some seemingly forgotten areas. The sun makes no exceptions in terms of parts of the body. The damage that a burn can cause to a shoulder or face is the same as the damage it can cause to the lips, ears, and even the scalp.

According to Dr. Alberto Conde TaboadaHead of the Dermatology Department at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid: "it is quite common to forget about the ears when applying sun protection and they are precisely an area where we frequently see skin tumours. Another typical spot is the lower lip. We should always apply sunscreens in that region, and remember that tobacco can also induce the appearance of cancer in this same location."

The Multidisciplinary Skin and Melanoma Unit specialist explains that serious lesions in these areas can lead to skin cancer if not diagnosed and treated in timeFor this reason, he insists that these often forgotten parts need protection from the sun as much as the other areas where sun protection is normally applied. According to Conde Taboada, the easiest way to ensure adequate protection is by actively encouraging the habitual use of sunscreen, particularly as today we have such a wide range of easy to apply sprays and creams available. The doctor also highlights that clothing can be a great ally when it comes to protecting the skin from exposure to the sun. However, we should remember that thin and clear clothing still allows some solar radiation to pass through. "The most effective in terms of protection are the sunscreen garments sold in sports stores," says the specialist.

In addition, it is essential to understand that sun protection recommendations are not the same for young children as for adults. “Infants should not be exposed to more than occasional direct sunlight until they are 6 months old. Mineral-based protective creams are recommended for children under 2 years of age, as they are safer. Sunburn is more damaging earlier in life and it is worse to get burnt aged five than aged fifty," confirms the Head of the Dermatology Department at MD Anderson Madrid.

Warning signs and factors to consider

Principal warning symptoms we need to take into account in relation to the risks of unprotected sun exposure are wounds that do not heal after a couple of weeks or moles that change shape or colour. In addition, Dr. Conde Taboada warns that it is essential to be stricter in terms of sun protection in general and have regular check-ups if you have had a malignant or premalignant skin tumour, as this increases the risk of developing a new one.

We should also remember that skin type is a factor for consideration; put simply, some skins are more sensitive than others. As the specialist explains, "there are so-called phototypes, which indicate how the skin responds to the sun according to our melanin. They range from phototype I (red hair, blue eyes, skin that never tans and always burns) to phototype VI (black skin, black hair, dark eyes, never burns). In between these, there is a whole spectrum of skins that burn more or less easily”, concludes the dermatologist.


  1. Effects of the sun on the skin | Spanish Association Against Cancer (
  2. Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology-Euromelanoma 2023 - Fundación Piel Sana