There are countless reasons why a person chooses to sport a hairless scalp. If you're a man, you might get ahead of the game by shaving off hair naturally thinning due to male pattern baldness, or you may simply prefer the low maintenance and masculine looks a shaven pate provides. More and more women are also choosing to get rid of their hair, either in defiance of society's gendered expectations or simply because they prefer the look. If you suffer from a condition such as alopecia, you may not have a choice in the matter at all.
However, while societal stigmas surrounding baldness are now more or less non-existent, people with hairless heads (either by choice or design) are inherently more vulnerable to developing skin cancer. As such, anyone with less than a full head of hair should take extra steps to prevent skin cancer from occurring, and have any warning signs of skin cancer inspected and treated as soon as possible.
Why are bald people more vulnerable to skin cancer?
The thick head of hair you once sported may have gotten unbearably sweaty and matted in the summer, but it also served a biological purpose -- protecting the delicate skin of your scalp from damaging UV sunlight.
Without this protective covering, bare scalp skin is more likely to develop skin cancer without proper protection and precautions. This is particularly true for bald men, since men are several times more likely to develop skin cancer than women, even with a full head of hair. It also doesn't help that cancerous and pre-cancerous skin lesions on the head are more difficult to spot than those on the rest of your body, particularly if they develop toward the back of your scalp.
How can bald people minimise their risk of developing skin cancer on the scalp?
Fortunately for the hairless among us, protecting the skin of your scalp from damaging sunlight doesn't require any special measures you wouldn't take to protect the skin on the rest of your body. Applying sunscreen or sunblock to your bald head whenever you intend to go outside (and even when you don't) is the best way to prevent the skin damage that causes cancer. A snazzy piece of headwear is also an excellent way to protect your scalp, especially if you choose a hat made from specialised UV-blocking materials.
Unfortunately, no step you can take to prevent skin cancer on your scalp is 100% effective, and there is still a small chance that you may develop skin cancer even if you take all the precautions you can. As such, bald men and women should have their skin professionally checked for signs of cancer on a regular basis (at least once a year), paying particular attention to the scalp. You can schedule a skin cancer check with your doctor or dermatologist, or attend a specialised skin cancer screening clinic, depending on what is convenient for you.