For males who still have some hair and for almost all females going to the hairdresser is a common thing. Given that these hairdressers are in a unique position to find suspicious scalp and face lesions, how many actually look for such potential skin cancers?
A recent study found that about 40% of hairdressers looked for possible cancers and about half of these stylists had actually suggested to a customer that he or she see a dermatologist. This is very important as skin cancers are increasing in number. More and more of us spend time outdoors, usually sans sun cream. Even worse we lie down and pay for the cancer exposure in the form of tanning booths. Melanoma, the most deadly of the skin cancers, might occur in susceptible individuals.
If a hairdresser notices a funny spot, an early referral to a dermatologist could, in the case of melanoma, be lifesaving. Males who suffer from bald spots do have a higher risk of skin cancer in the exposed scalp but at the same time are probably more likely to have a stylist notice that lesion than their hair endowed peers.
To me it would make sense to offer hairdressers a basic course on identifying those skin problems which need referral. Some stylists might otherwise be hesitant to check or to refer, due to lack of knowledge or concern about invading a customer’s privacy. This study, however, found that almost 50% of surveyed hairdressers would be interested in just such a course. Also, as only about 15% checked customer’s faces for lesions, a course might increase that percentage as well. And the need is definitely there-only about 28% of stylists had received any skin cancer education whatsoever.
Next time, when you enter your favorite hair salon, you might get a piece of advice worth a lot more than just a slick haircut.