Tumors and Growths that Occur on the Scalp

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What if You Discover a Growth on a Client’s Head?

It can be very alarming to discover a growth on a client’s scalp as you work, especially if you are familiar with the client and know it is new.  Most bumps and lumps on the scalp are not that serious.  Indeed, it might simply be a benign mole or cyst.  Other possible causes range from hereditary lesions to cancer.

If you notice a lump or bump on a client’s scalp it is always worth mentioning.  The client may be aware of it, or you might be the first to discover it.

Is It Cancer?

It is easy to panic and think ‘cancer’ when we notice a strange new lump anywhere on the body, so let’s cover that first.  Skin cancer can indeed show up on the scalp, especially in sunny climates on people with thin hair or balding areas.  Few people slather sun block into their hair after all; it seems to create quite a mess!  It’s easy to forget to put on a hat, even for people who are vigilant about putting hats and sun block on their children.  Skin cancer can start off in several ways.  First of all, some individuals develop precancerous spots called an actinic keratosis that are rough and crusty.  These can be the precursor lesions for skin cancers due to sun exposure such as squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer.  Basal cell skin cancer is the biggest risk for the scalp as it is linked to sun exposure.  It can show up as a small bump with a pearly appearance, or it can be red.  These bumps are sensitive, bleed easily and often crust over.  Squamous cell can

cer is also linked to sun exposure, and it appears as a red rough crusted patch or bump, and sometimes leads to a sore that doesn’t heal or a scaly patch of skin.

When a mole changes shape or has an irregular border or bleeds or gets irritated, it is worth having your client see a doctor to check it out further. Any mole that seems in any way strange needs to be evaluated to rule out a Melanoma.  This type of cancerous growth of the skin starts off looking like a brown or black mole with an irregular shape which can grow rapidly, bleed or get irritated.  You will be in a much better position to notice these changes on the scalp than your client.



Some Less Serious Causes of Growths on the Scalp

Not all lumps and bumps are cancer.  In fact, most causes are not that serious.  They are annoying, yes, but not fatal.

Warts are fairly common and cause the development of raised areas that resemble an artichoke.  A person can have one or sometimes multiple warts on the scalp.  Because they are itchy at times, a person tends to scratch them which can cause them to spread to other parts of the body.  Medical attention is required to treat the warts and get them to go away.  Another reason to learn to recognize warts is because the virus is contagious and has the potential to spread to the unprotected hands of a hair care professional.

Sebaceous or epidermal cysts appear as round lumps of tissue underneath or extending above the surface of the skin.  At times, they can get much larger, and may be visible through the hair.  They represent oil sacs under the skin that are filled with several different substances depending upon the type of cyst.  Cysts are usually painless and grow slowly.  Nonetheless, few people want them on their heads!  A doctor can surgically remove cysts, as they don’t tend to go away on their own.

Seborrheic Keratoses are growths that show up as stuck on crusted lesions ranging from tan to brown to black in color on the skin surface.  At times they can resemble warts but are different because they are not caused by a virus and are not contagious.  These growths develop on a hereditary basis and tend to increase in number and size with aging.  Even though they are benign, they can become irritated so sometimes they are removed for that reason.

While most bumps you may find on a client’s head are not that serious, any that grow rapidly or become bothersome will generally need medical attention.

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