Hairdo that can save you

Medical photographer Lorraine Rimmer has been diagnosed with a type of skin cancer and is urging hairdressers to notice the symptoms on people's scalps and backs of heads when they cut hair.  She is pictured left, with sister Sandra Thompson, hairdresser at The Barber Shop in Cleveleys.
Medical photographer Lorraine Rimmer has been diagnosed with a type of skin cancer and is urging hairdressers to notice the symptoms on people's scalps and backs of heads when they cut hair. She is pictured left, with sister Sandra Thompson, hairdresser at The Barber Shop in Cleveleys.
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MEDICAL photographer Lorraine Rimmer is used to seeing pictures of skin cancer.

The mum-of-three has had to take pictures of hundreds of suspicious moles over the years as part of her job at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

But now the 51-year-old, of West Park Drive, Blackpool, has had the shock of being diagnosed with skin cancer herself.

And she wants to help raise awareness of the condition, along with urging local hairdressers to speak up if they see something their client should perhaps be aware of.

Lorraine thought a patch of dry skin on the nape of her neck, just at her hair-line, was dermatitis – and was told so by a GP.

But when she was getting some moles on her back checked out by consultant dermatologist Dr John Kellett, she discovered it was actually what is known as a “rodent ulcer.”

Lorraine said: “I asked what a rodent ulcer was and was told it was skin cancer.

“It is a slow-growing cancer - I’ve had it for about two years.

“It was itchy and used to sting like mad when I had my hair dried, but I didn’t think much about it.

“Now I am just waiting to hear when I can have it removed.

“I mentioned it to my sister Sandra Thompson, who is a barber and she told me she has been witnessing scalp abnormalities for years among her male customers.

“In fact, if she does see something unusual, she has a quiet word, just politely tells them - without scaremongering - perhaps they should get it checked out, just in case.

“I can’t believe there isn’t more awareness of this issue. A lot of ladies’ hairdressers don’t seem to say anything if they spot something.

“I’d like to raise awareness and get people to perhaps ask their hairdresser to speak up if they do spot something that doesn’t look quite right.

“Of course, in most cases, it’s going to be nothing. But it is always better to be safe, to err on the side of caution.

“People can’t see the top and back of their head obviously and can’t see for themselves.

“If people just get it checked out by a doctor, then it might just put their mind at rest.

“Or if it is something, at least they can get treatment as soon as possible.”

Lorraine’s sister Sandra Thompson, who runs The Barber Shop on Nutter Road, Cleveleys, said: “I’ve been cutting hair for 30 years and I feel while you don’t want to scare someone, you don’t want to just ignore these things.

“So if I do spot something I think looks a bit unusual, because I am not an expert, or qualified to diagnose anything, I might just suggest next time the customer is visiting their doctor perhaps they might want to ask them about it.

“I just think it is important to raise awareness and a hairdresser or barber gets to see parts of the head a person might not be able to.”