Protect your ears… from the sun!

As we embark on another great summer of fun in the sun, most of us are probably aware of the effects of sun on our skin. Many of us do a decent job of protection from the hot sun by using adequate sunscreen. We apply it to our faces, necks, shoulders, and our backs. It’s always refreshing seeing parents cover up their children with sunscreen from head to toe, and then tuck to them under the protective umbrella to save them from a sunburn.

The one spot that many of us forget to protect is our earlobes. Frequently neglected, the top of the earlobes have very delicate and thin skin. The sun hits the top of the ears, and if unprotected, can cause significant sun damage. If this damage is uncontrolled for many years, there is a high probability for the skin to then transform to pre-cancerous cells and eventually to skin cancer. All major skin cancers have been seen with increasing frequency in this location. They usually present as a non-healing ulcer, occasionally with bloody or brown discoloration. Left unchecked, they can then spread to the rest of the earlobe, and eventually into the skin of the cheek and the lymph nodes in the neck.

The most important step to avoid this situation is to protect your ears. First and foremost, reduce the time that you are in direct sun. Wearing a hat with a brim also protects the ears directly. Lastly, don’t forget to apply sunscreen protection generously to the entire earlobe, including the surfaces behind the ears and all the creases within the earlobe. If you see a suspicious area, consult with your ENT or Dermatologist specialist.

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