Beauty professionals called upon to look for skin cancer symptoms

Habia is calling on beauty professionals to be aware of the signs of skin cancer when treating patients this summer.

The industry body is launching its Skin Cancer Awareness campaign, in conjunction with electrolysis machine brand Sterex, next month, to encourage therapists to play their part in identifying the early symptoms of skin cancers.

Skin cancer is the fastest growing type of cancer in the UK, especially among young people, and while public information about it has increased there remains a worrying level of confusion about the causes.

According to recent research by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), almost half of Britons think their skin is darker than it is, which puts them at greater risk of sun damage. 

The research, which has been released to mark the beginning of Sun Awareness Week on May 6 and to launch the Association’s Mole and Sun Advice Roadshow, supported by La Roche-Posay, also found that 80% of respondents infrequently or never check their skin for signs of cancer. What’s more, 69% said they had no idea what to look for, and 50% admitted to being reluctant to visit a doctor with their skin complaint, for fear of embarrassment or wasting their doctor’s time. 

Habia managing director Rob Young said, “Getting people to seek advice and take the symptoms seriously is the most difficult part, but this is where industry professionals can play a valuable role. 

“Staff will not take the job of GPs, instead they simply identify what could be potential symptoms and recommend medical advice be sought.”

The BAD research also indicated a lack of understanding about skin protecting skincare. Only 38% of people knew that the SP Factor of a product is what protects against the skin burning, while 39% understood that UVA protection prevents against the signs of skin ageing.

The statistics also indicated an increase in the desire for a tanned look, with 62% of people saying they found a tan more attractive than paler skin, up from 56% in a similar survey five years ago.

The BAD’s Dr Bav Shergill, said, “It is a concern that so many people think their skin is darker and tans more easily than is actually the case, as these people are likely to be spending longer in the sun than they should. I think this could be contributing to the increasing numbers of skin cancer cases I see in my clinic.”

Speaking in support of Habia’s campaign, Sterex director Laurie Cartmell said, “It is vital that this campaign helps raise awareness and educates electrologists and therapists so they can recognise these blemishes and refer them.”