Scalp Cancer --- A Special Danger for
Men Who Shave Their Heads
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June 3, 2017
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist
When I was growing up, the coolest guy with a bald head was Mr.
Clean. Remember Mr. Clean, the cartoon figure who sold household
cleaner? Since then, bald heads have become the sexy go-to choice for
men who start to lose their hair or who just want to look more
bad-ass. Michael Jordan, Andre Agassiz, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson
and Shaq are among the throngs of men around the world who are
rocking a shaved dome.
But does this hair style choice also present special health challenges?
It turns out, that shaving your head actually increases your risk for
Scalp Cancer Is A Hidden Problem
Most people are aware that spending too much time in the sun
increases your risk for skin cancer. We slather our faces, arms and legs
with sun screen of SPF 50 to protect our skin. But few people stop to
think -- how is the sun affecting my scalp?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, according to
the American Academy of Dermatology. The Academy reports that
9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, which works
out to be 3,467,500 people each year. Each person can have more than
one case of skin cancer. In fact, over 5,400,000 cases of skin cancer
were treated in the United States in 2012.
Of the skin cancers which are diagnosed, the overwhelming majority
are found on skin that you see. But a significant amount occur on skin
you cannot see, on your back on your scalp.
These "hidden" cancers are especially dangerous because they can
grow, and metasticize, before they are detected.
Shaving Your Head Exposes More of Your Skin Cells to Radiation from
Though having a full head of thick hair provides a natural sun cover for
your scalp, you are still not immune to skin cancer. Women and men
with full heads of hair do indeed develop skin cancer. In one case, 43
year old Karen Shultes of Palmetto, Florida developed a scalp cancer
behind her left ear which was diagnosed as a melanoma in 2007.
The 5.4 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year are either
Basal Cell Carcicoma or Squamous Cell Carcenoma. These are
nonmelanoma cancers. Melanoma cancers are more rare, with 161,790
new cases of melanoma, 74,680 noninvasive and 87,110 invasive cases
diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, according to the American Academy of
Having a melanoma on your scalp doubles your risk of dying from the
cancer, according to dermatologist Neil Fenske of the University of
If you shave your head, you expose more of your skin cells to direct
radiation from the sun. This increases your risk for developing all forms
of skin cancer, both nonmelanoma and melanoma cancers.
How to Protect Your Scalp from the Skin Cancer
The same methods you use to protect your face and arms against sun
radiation should be used to protect your scalp as well.
First, you should cover your head when you are in direct sun. Wear a
hat, a baseball cap, anything that will shade your scalp.
Second, you should use a high SPF sunscreen on your scalp, the same
sunscreen you use for your face.
Third, you should use a hand mirror and stand in front of a wall mirror
to see the back of your head and the back of your ears. This will help
you to detect any suspicious moles or sores that won't heal --- a
tell-tale sign of cancer.
Once a month or at most every six weeks, go to a professional barber
to have your head shaved. Hairstylists and barbers are often the first
ones to notice that something has changed with your scalp. They also
see a lot of scalps, so they known when something does not look right.
Use Sesame Oil to Condition Your Scalp and Protect It from Sun
Studies on sesame oil have found that the soil actually works at the
genetic level to change the way our skin cells respond to sun radiation.
As one 2011 study from the University of Belgrade observed: " Sesame
oil resists 30% of UV rays, while coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed
oils block out about 20%".
Use sesame oil after you shave. Wait a few minutes before going
outside. The oil loses its smell after about 10 to 15 minutes.
Use Olive Oil as an Alternative Oil to Condition Your Scalp
Olive oil blocks 20% of the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays if used as a
Olive oil, like sesame oil, contains high levels of antioxidants which
scavenge free radicals triggered by exposure to the sun's radiation.
Green Tea Cools Sun Burns and Heals Skin
Green tea applied to your skin has a "photoprotective effect," according
to the Belgrade University study. Green tea reduces the number of
sunburns cells. Green tea also protects cells in deeper layers of your
skin called "Langerhans cells" from UV damage. Finally, even after your
skin has been damaged by UV radiation, green tea reduces the damage
that typically forms afterwards.
In mice studies, green tea has been found to decrease the amount of
melanoma cell formation.
Apply a rinse of green tea, after it has cooled to no hotter than room
temperature, as an after shave.
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|Using olive oil as a scalp
conditioner can block a significant
amount of sun damage.