Effect of hair removal on solar UV transmission into skin and implications for melanoma skin cancer development

Skin Cancer

Huang X, et al. J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis 2020.


Melanoma is the severest type of skin cancer. As distinct from many other cancer types, the incidence of melanoma has been increasing steadily over the last century. Discovering new risk factors of melanoma will not only raise public awareness but also potentially contribute to the improvement of skin cancer protection in the future. Nowadays, the tendency of shaving skin hair is becoming increasingly popular for aesthetic purposes. However, human hair serves several functions, one of which is

ultraviolet (UV) protection for the skin. What is more, stem cells found in the follicles of hair could be the origin of melanoma upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, it is of interest to investigate the effect of shaving on solar UV transmission in the skin. To achieve that, two groups of skin models are constructed in TracePro software: one with unaltered hair and one with shaved hair. The UV transport in the models is simulated using the Monte Carlo method and the absorptions in the stem cells layer are compared. It is found that shaving will increase the UV transmission to the follicular stem cells to a certain degree. More specifically, shaving limbs will generally increase the solar UV transmission from about 5% to 20% in the UV wavelength range.