Can your hairstylist save your life?

Can your hairstylist save your life?

Do you always use the same hairstylist, or do you tend to change it up?

For one former health correspondent in Cleveland, her decade-long relationship with her hairstylist saved her life.

To keep up her trademark red hair, Eileen Korey enlisted the help of her colorist, Kari Phillips. When Phillips noticed a mole on Korey’s head she had not seen before, she encouraged Korey to make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Because the mole wasn’t raised, Korey told WKYC Channel 3 that she would not have felt or noticed it.

The mole turned out to be melanoma, a form of skin cancer, but it was still located in the epidermis – or skin – level and had not made its way deeper into her scalp. Because her hairstylist noticed it quickly and Korey followed-up and saw a dermatologist quickly for a diagnosis, she was able to have surgery to remove the skin cancer but did not have to have chemotherapy or radiation.

Dr. Michael Jude Welsch, a dermatologist affiliated with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., says he has seen patients sent by their hairstylists, colorists and almost every health and wellness specialist you use on a regular basis, like a manicurist or a masseuse, referred for suspicious skin lesions.

“Really there are no areas of your body where skin cancer cannot develop, so a new or changing skin mark could be a cause for concern,” Dr. Welsch says.

He recommends the following protection and detection tips:

  • Remember the ABCDE rule for melanoma detection. A = asymmetry, B = border irregularity, C = color changes, D = diameter > 6 mm, E = evolution or change
  • Use a daily broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher
  • Use sunscreen specially formulated for the face
  • Take extra care to ensure you don’t miss the eye area when applying sunscreen. People often miss this critical area.
    • Try a sunscreen stick around the eyes, which also helps create a barrier so sunscreen applied elsewhere on the face does not drip into the eyes
    • Use a powder sunblock or foundation with SPF ensuring you brush it on the eyelids and around the eyes, and repeat often
  • Wear a hat whenever possible while outdoors to keep the sun off your face and your scalp
  • Wear sunglasses that are labeled 100% UV protection
  • Cover your skin as much as possible, even when it’s very hot (light weight, light color, long sleeves can actually keep your cooler) when outside for extended periods of time
  • Embrace the natural color of your skin — there is no good tan

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About the Author

Kate Eller
Kate Eller

Kate Eller, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She came to Chicago and Advocate in 2014 after living in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Texas. She enjoys road trips, exploring little towns, minimalism, hiking and urban hiking around Chicago.

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