A haircut can save your life: warning signs of cancer can appear on the scalp
Cancer can appear insidiously and unexpectedly, and skin cancer is no exception. In fact, something as simple as going to the hairdresser can help identify a serious condition. With 147,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed each year, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs.
Whether you choose to open up a different side of your personality with a new hairstyle or just get a healthy haircut, going to the hairdresser can be fun as well as a necessary health check.
What’s more, Cancer Nurse and Dermavitality co-founder Mark Brown shared that “a haircut can save your life.”
Standing over you with scissors and a comb in their hands, hairdressers carefully examine not only your hair, but also your scalp.
This area of your body can help spot skin cancer with seven red flags that can be alarming.
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Since a 2014 study found that melanomas on the scalp are more likely to spread to the brain than anywhere else on the body, it’s vital to get your scalp checked regularly, according to an expert.
Brown said: “Skin cancer on the scalp is harder to spot as the area is not as easily visible.
“However, since skin cancer can occur anywhere on the skin, especially in sun-exposed areas, it’s important to check your scalp regularly.”
Plus, you don’t have to rely solely on your hairdresser to catch warning signs. You can also keep an eye on your scalp by scanning for the following telltale signs.
Warning signs of skin cancer
Non-cancerous moles tend to stay the same size and shape, which means that any changes in these colored spots on the skin can be the “first signs” of melanoma.
“Melanoma, while considered a rarer form of skin cancer, can be dangerous due to its ability to spread, so a doctor or dermatologist should see a doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible to address any potential growth,” Brown said.
Wounds that won’t heal
Any injury to the scalp should be treated with care, but you should also pay close attention to scratches that won’t heal.
The expert said: “Slow healing is often an indicator of an underlying medical condition, excessive stress, or even malnutrition, meaning you should discuss the injury with your doctor as soon as possible.”
Sudden appearance of a mole or freckle
Most moles are not usually cancerous or benign, but you should always let your doctor know about a new mole.
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Brown said: “While finding moles on the scalp can be difficult, you can use a comb or fingers to separate the hair into sections.
“With the help of a hand mirror, you will be able to assess your scalp by gently moving around your head to detect any new additions to your skin.”
Unusual looking bumps, growths, or moles
Using the same technique above, run your fingers over your head to detect any asymmetry. Remember, any changes should be checked by a specialist, as advised by an expert.
Dry or flaky patches
Hard and pink bumps that feel dry and rough to the touch can also be warning signs of skin cancer.
Brown said: “Assessing the color of the swelling is a good first step in figuring out if there’s a problem, but it’s a good idea to raise the issue with your healthcare provider anyway.”
Moles that change color
Color variations from pink to blue and gray to red can also indicate skin cancer.
“Since discoloring moles can be either cancerous or precancerous, you should immediately respond to the first signs of change,” the expert said.
Painful or red spots
Brown added: “Red, painful and itchy patches can be indicative of cancer, especially squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which affects the outermost layer of the skin.
“These painful patches can also be shades of black, tan, and brown, more indicative of Bowen’s disease, a very early and highly treatable form of skin cancer.”
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