You think of your hairdresser as saving you from bad hair days. But now, your favorite stylist just may save your life. More than 80 percent of the most common types of skin cancers — squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell carcinomas — occur on the scalp, neck and face. Your hairstylists get a close look at your scalp when you’re in the chair, and they can play a particularly important role in skin cancer detection.
Who knew? Most skin cancers occur on sun-exposed areas, like the head and neck. Skin cancers of the scalp are easy for patients to overlook, which can unfortunately delay their detection. Studies show that hairstylists have been increasingly spotting skin cancers that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. “Hair stylists are often the first line of defense against skin cancers,” said Robert Pariser President of the American Dermatology Association. What’s also helping in the fight against skin cancer is cosmetology schools across the country are teaching students how to identify suspicious spots on a client’s scalp.
Researchers with the Harvard School of Public health surveyed 200 different stylists and found as many as 40 percent now check their customers’ scalps for suspicious moles and lesions. However the Skin Cancer Foundation advises everyone to check their skin head-to-toe monthly. For more information on how to check your scalp (and the rest of your body), please visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Step-by-Step Self Examination.