Hair Stylists And Your Health
Your hairdresser could help save your life. A new report in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology describes efforts to teach hairdressers how to spot moles that could signal melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. You’re not likely to know you have one of these lesions if it is hidden by hair on your scalp or neck. The plan to train hairdressers to spot suspicious moles was developed after a team of dermatologists surveyed more than 100 hairdressers to find out what they knew about melanoma. Following the survey, the doctors produced a five-minute video illustrating melanoma characteristics. They asked 100 hairdressers in the Los Angeles area to view the video, including some who had been surveyed earlier about their familiarity with signs of the disease. After viewing the video, more than twice the number of hairdressers said they were “very confident” of being able to spot suspicious moles and skin changes than had felt so earlier. One of the dermatologists involved said she had seen three patients in the last year who had melanoma that had been spotted by hairdressers. The challenge now is to distribute the video more widely among beauty shops and schools and, of course, to make sure that hairdressers remember what they learn about melanoma detection.
My take? Training hairdressers to spot growths that might be a sign of melanoma is an ingenious idea. You might consider asking your hairdresser to check your scalp and neck for anything unusual – after all, even if untrained; she (or he) can see what you can’t. Melanoma usually appears on women’s legs and men’s trunks but can develop anywhere on the skin. Most moles are harmless, but be alert for any that grow, or change shape, color or texture. To protect yourself, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends getting a yearly skin exam by a doctor and checking your own skin monthly for any suspicious changes.
Neda R. Black et al, “Improving Hairdresser’s Knowledge and Self-Efficacy to Detect Scalp and Neck Melanoma by Use of an Educational Video.” JAMA Dermatology, December 6, 2017, doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.4267
Also in this week’s bulletin: