Are Bald People at a Higher Risk for Skin Cancer?
Last updated: October 2021
For some of us, being bald is a choice. But for others like myself, we weren’t given a choice and were simply blessed with a beautiful bald head. Being bald definitely comes with its perks: There’s no such thing as a bad hair day. You save a ton of money on haircuts. By simply letting people rub your freshly shaven head you can provide good luck - the list goes on and on.
Bald head = more UV exposure
I know many readers are thinking “wow, I wish I was bald”, after that list of pros, but don’t be too quick to jump on the bald train. While it certainly is an amazing look and lifestyle, it also comes with some risks - especially when it comes to UV exposure.
There have been studies
According to a 2017 study done by the National Institutes of Health, “Male-pattern baldness was not significantly associated with risk of incident melanoma but was significantly associated with increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Analyses by body sites found significant associations between frontal plus moderate to severe vertex baldness and risk of melanoma and SCC at head and neck. The associations were particularly stronger for scalp melanoma and scalp SCC, but not for non-scalp head and neck sites. Information on body sites was not available for BCC.
So what does all that mean?
According to the study, "In conclusion, male pattern baldness may be associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, but the associations may only exist for those occurring at the head and neck, particularly at the scalp.”1
We're a target for the sun
A bald head means less hair, thus more UV exposure on the scalp. A bald head is effectively a giant target for the sun. Fortunately, there are some fairly easy solutions to stay protected and keep your bald head free of skin cancer:
Always have a hat
Speaking from experience, I know most bald men like to show off their beautiful hair-less heads. While it may be frustrating to keep that beauty covered up with a hat, it’s the easiest way to keep your head protected while outdoors. A wide brim UPF 50+ hat is best, but honestly, anything is better than nothing.
No amount of time is too short
Anytime you step outdoors, even if you’re just making a quick trip to your car, throw on a hat. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to show off your bald style while indoors, but it’s not worth the risk when you are outdoors. Your head is one of the few surfaces that directly faces the sun, making it much more susceptible to UV damage. Keeping it covered is keeping it safe.
Use a face sunscreen for your head
If you are bald but don’t like wearing hats, my first recommendation would be to suck it up and wear a hat anyway. However, if you simply refuse to wear a hat or perhaps you can’t find your hat, make sure you always have sunscreen on hand. I personally prefer to use face sunscreen for my head, but any sunscreen will work. Face sunscreens are often a lot more comfortable on sensitive skin and less likely to cause any irritation.
We already knew that bald is beautiful, but now we know that there are some inherent risks involved. Make sure you protect your head and keep an eye on any suspicious spots. If you find one, bring it to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible.
What sun protection advice do you have for bald people?
Do you sunscreen in the fall?