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Red Alert!

Posted: November 1st, 2018

Redheads are known to be fiery and interesting. Those cute freckles let them get away with just about anything. National Love Your Red Hair Day is celebrated every year on November 5 but it is also a good time to remember the downside: Redheads have a higher risk for skin cancer than most people.

Their pale skin is prone to burn rather than tan. They are more than one and one half times as likely to develop basal cell carcinomas, the most common form of skin cancer. And more than 12 times as likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body. That’s the reason it is so important to use sun protection at an early age.

But besides that, redheads have a genetic risk for melanoma too—the most dangerous form of skin cancer that can be deadly. This genetic risk has more to do with the gene variants that are responsible for their rosy skin tone. If you or a family member has red hair or have fair skin and light eyes, your risk for skin cancer is very high and you should be taking precautions. You should set up regular skin exams with a dermatologist and be sure to do self-skin exams each month.

The key is early detection. Letting your doctor know about anything on your skin that is new or changing can prevent you from disfiguring treatment or even save your life, so you can continue rocking your red for many years to come.