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Dermatologists have launched a campaign geared toward educating hairstylists about skin cancer

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) has launched a program called Stylists Against Skin Cancer aimed at educating hairstylists about how to spot potential skin cancer warning signs, and what to say to their clients if they spot suspicious lesions.

“The Stylists Against Skin Cancer program empowers hairstylists to link the public with dermatologists,” said Dr. Naomi Lawrence, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. “Stylists are in a unique position to connect their clients with dermatologists early enough to provide the best opportunity for optimal treatment outcomes.”

This program was created as part of the Society’s Future Leaders Network by Dr. Ramona Behshad, along with Dr. Vince Bertucci, medical director at Bertucci MedSpa in Vaughan, Ont.

Hairstylists have access to difficult-to-see areas on a person’s scalp

“Early detection of skin cancer is vitally important, and hairstylists have access to difficult-to-see areas on a person’s scalp,” said Dr. Behshad, assistant professor in the department of dermatology at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, who was quoted in a press release.

“Stylists also are known for having good relationships with their clients so they easily can talk to them about the importance of seeing a dermatologist,” she added.

Dr. Behshad noted that most hair care professionals do not receive skin cancer education while in cosmetology school, so the program is aimed at teaching stylists to spot the warning signs of skin cancer.

Education materials and resources

Participating stylists have access to a SHADE (surface, height, age and dermatology) card that features a diagram of a person’s head and helps them identify potentially dangerous growths or moles. SHADE cards serve a reminder to stylists of potential warning signs of scalp skin cancer:

  • Surface: The skin surface is scaly, crusty and/or bleeding.

  • Height: The skin is raised or sunken.

  • Age: The suspicious growth has been there for more than one month, or the client is 40 years of age or older.

  • Dermatology Evaluation: Hairstylists are encouraged to refer their client to a dermatologist.

In addition, print and electronic educational material—as well as a video that explains the program and shows hairstylists how to detect suspicious growths on the scalp—can be found at

“With the education we’re providing, hair professionals will be able to provide their clients with valuable information that they can then share with a dermatologist,” Dr. Behshad said.

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