HAIRDRESSERS can play a vital role in the battle against skin cancer by alerting clients to spots or nodules on their scalps, according to an expert dermatologist.
Men with thinning hair are the key risk group for potentially life-threatening scalp melanomas.
But people with a full head of tresses can get them from sun exposure around the part line, while those with fine hair lack sun protection in larger areas of the scalp.
Hairdresser at Iko Iko Hair in Orange Jess Lamrock said she always checks for abnormalities on her client’s heads.
“It’s a part of your body that you don’t get to see,” she said.
“If I see something I will tell the client but whether they go and get it checked up is another story.
“It’s important to check behind the ears as well as on the scalp - I always get checks so it’s something I look out for.”
A recent study showed that a small number of Australian patients with scalp melanomas had been alerted by their hairdressers, said co-author Professor John Kelly.
The research was presented to the annual scientific meeting of The Australasian College of Dermatologists.
“In Australia, where we have one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world, it is important that everyone is aware of recognising changes to spots or nodules on their own skin and on others,” he said.
“I would ask that hairdressers bring any spots or nodules to the attention of the client and, without causing distress, encourage them to get it checked by a doctor.
“Aggressive melanomas can grow quite quickly and therefore, if you see any changes to your scalp that do not resolve after a month, do not put it off, see your doctor immediately.”
The study found that five per cent of 237 patients were initially alerted to their melanoma by their hairdressers.