Sunday, March 3, 2024

Does Everyone Lose Hair With Chemo

Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss

I Lost All My Hair to Chemotherapy

Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cellshealthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles, the structures in the skin filled with tiny blood vessels that make hair, are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. If youre not in cancer treatment, your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours. Because many chemotherapy drugs are designed to effectively kill all rapidly dividing cells, hair is the unfortunate bystander that takes the fall along with the cancer cells.

Tips For Coping With Cancer

This page adheres to our medical and editorial policy and guidelines.

Some of the most difficult side effects of cancer treatments may not cause physical pain. They may not cause fatigue or digestive issues. And they may only be temporary. But for some cancer patients, hair loss may be one of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment.

Hair loss, or alopecia, may make you feel vulnerable, self-conscious and exposed as a cancer patient. Hair loss is also a tangible sign that your life has changed, which may trigger feelings of anger and depression. And you may be faced with questions from others that you arent prepared to deal with yet.

For some, the threat of hair loss may intensify the lack of control you may feel after a cancer diagnosis. But it also presents an opportunity to emotionally prepare for losing your hair and take steps to deal with it before it happens. It helps to understand why hair falls out and how to handle it if it occurs.

Does Everyones Hair Fall Out During Chemo

No, not everyones hair falls out during chemo.

Chemotherapy drugs can cause hair loss in some people. This side effect is due to the fact that chemotherapy drugs work by attacking rapidly dividing cells. Hair follicles are rapidly dividing cells, so they are often affected by chemotherapy. This can result in hair loss on the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, legs, and even pubic hair.

Not everyone experiences hair loss during chemo. Some people may only lose a little bit of hair, while others may not lose any at all. This is because different people respond differently to chemotherapy drugs. Some people may have more resistant hair follicles, while others may have less sensitive ones.

There are a few ways to deal with hair loss during chemo. Some people choose to wear wigs or hats, while others may shave their heads completely. Some people may also choose to do nothing and just accept the hair loss as a natural side effect of the treatment.

What you do about hair loss during chemo is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong answer. Some people may feel more comfortable with a wig or hat, while others may feel better about embracing their baldness. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what makes you feel most comfortable.

Don’t Miss: Side Effects Breast Cancer Radiation

/ Why Does Chemotherapy Make My Hair Fall Out

Hair loss or alopecia is the best known and most visible side effect of chemotherapy. Actually chemotherapy is an umbrella term for any cancer treatment using what are known as cytostatics. Cancer cells tend to divide rapidly. Cytostatic drugs are drugs that aim to quickly destroy these rapidly dividing cells or to delay their growth. Unfortunately, they also kill other, healthy cells that also divide rapidly, such as the cells in our hair follicles that make our hair grow. This is why chemotherapy also causes hair loss.

What Else Contributes To Hair Loss

Managing Hair Loss After Chemo

There are a number of non-cancer-related medications that are also associated with hair loss. These might accentuate the effects of chemotherapy drugs if used alongside them.

Some of these include:

In addition to medications, illness, surgery, or dietary changes may lead to hair loss.

Thyroid disease may cause hair loss and may occur as a result of cancer treatment .

Read Also: Dry Chem Carpet Cleaning Reviews

/ Why Doesnt Every Chemo Patient Lose His Or Her Hair

Chemotherapy uses a specific mix of cancer drugs. The mix you will receive depends on the type of cancer you have. Some drugs cause hair loss, others cause little to no hair loss whatsoever. Some chemo treatments do not make peoples hair fall out but it does become thinner or duller. Your doctor is the best person to inform you about how much hair loss you can expect.

Coping With Chemo Hair Loss

Both during chemotherapy and as hair begins to grow again after treatment, caring for your hair may delay hair loss and facilitate hair regrowth after chemo. If you have long hair, you may want to consider a shorter style. Short hair looks fuller, places less weight on the roots , and may ease the transition to total hair loss.

Many people choose to shave their heads when their hair begins to fall out in clumps. Doing so may help prevent furry sheets and clogged drains, and headcovers or wigs may fit better. On the other hand, some people prefer to allow their hair to fall out as it may and find that visualizing the chemotherapy drugs working as each hair is lost to be helpful in coping.

It can also be helpful to shop for wigs or other head covers before you lose your hair. Other tips for caring for your hair before and after treatment include:

  • Use a mild shampoo, such as baby shampoo, to wash your hair.
  • Brush your hair gently with a soft baby brush or a wide-toothed comb.
  • Try to limit washing your hair to a few times per week.
  • Limit the use of hair dryers and use a low heat setting when you need to use a dryer.
  • Avoid hair dyes and permanents.
  • Remember to protect your scalp from the sun with coverings and/or sunscreen.

Recommended Reading: Brain Cancer Radiation Side Effects

Can Anything Make My Hair Grow More Quickly

Some people think that if they rub or massage their scalp, their hair will grow more quickly. There is no evidence that this helps and, in fact, it could damage fragile new hair and so have a negative impact on hair regrowth.

There is some evidence that minoxidil solution might help it grow back faster. However, further research is needed. Speak to your medical team before using any over-the-counter medicines, to check that they are safe for you.

There are no complementary and alternative medicines recommended in the UK to help with treatment-related hair loss. This includes therapies and natural products such as vitamins, minerals and plant-based products.

If you are considering trying something to help your hair to re-grow, check with your medical team first that it is safe for you. Some could irritate your scalp and cause further hair loss.

Lymphoma Treatment And Hair Loss

Losing my hair at 21: Chemotherapy hair loss, my experience (my cancer journey)

Hair loss is a side effect of some chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. Less commonly, it can be a side effect of antibody therapy.

Lymphoma treatment works on cells that divide rapidly, which includes lymphoma cells and hair cells this is why treatment can cause changes to your hair.

Not everyone who has treatment for lymphoma experiences changes to their hair. Whether youre affected or not depends on lots of factors, including: your treatment , your age, and your overall health, including any other conditions you might have.

Effects on your hair are usually short-term and can include:

  • slight thinning
  • changes in colour, which could include a streak or band of white hair
  • changes in texture, such as hair being thinner, coarser or more curly than before treatment.

Mostly, hair eventually goes back to how it was before treatment for lymphoma.

Also Check: Long Term Side Effects Of Radiation Treatment For Cervical Cancer

How To Deal With Cancer

When you’re struggling with cancer, treatments and the challenges that come with a diagnosis, it may be difficult to adjust to hair loss and other changes to your body and appearance. But there are ways to prepare for and deal with hair loss when it occurs. Here are 12 ways to help cope with cancer-related hair loss:

Give yourself time. Losing your hair may be difficult to accept. It may take time to adjust to how you look, then more time to feel good about yourself again. Its okay to feel upset. At the same time, understand that losing your hair is usually temporary and hair will re-grow after you complete treatment.

Remember youre still you. Losing your hair and experiencing other physical changes brought on by cancer and its treatment may come as a shock. It may be disorienting to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. Remember that youre still the same person on the inside. Try to celebrate who you are and focus on those qualities.

Prepare ahead for hair changes. Before you begin cancer treatment, prepare in advance for changes to your hair. Talk to your doctor about what to expect. Meet with a stylist who is familiar with cancer-related hair loss. Some people choose to wear head coverings, and others dont. Choose whatever feels most comfortable for you. It also helps to think about how you will respond to reactions from others.

Should I Cut My Hair Short Before Chemo

Opt for a Short Haircut Before Treatment Begins Its a lot less shocking to have short clumps of hair fall out in the shower or in your hands, rather than a handful of long strands. Plus, hair tends to come out in uneven patches, and short hair can help to temporarily mask this. Best of all, short hair is in style.

Dont Miss: What Are The 3 Types Of Cancer Genes

Read Also: How I Cured My Cervical Cancer

Will I Lose My Eyelashes Eyebrows And Body Hair

You may lose some or all of your body hair after starting chemotherapy, including eyebrows, eyelashes, nose hair, underarm and pubic hair, and chest hair for men. This can be a shock, especially if youre not prepared for it.

Find out more about losing your eyelashes, eyebrows and body hair during chemotherapy.

Talking With Your Health Care Team About Hair Loss

12 Tips &  Tricks to Get You Through Chemotherapy

Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:

  • Is treatment likely to cause my hair to fall out?
  • How should I protect and care for my head? Are there products that you recommend? Ones I should avoid?
  • Where can I get a wig or hairpiece?
  • What support groups could I meet with that might help?
  • When will my hair grow back?

Recommended Reading: Survival Rates For Cervical Cancer

Your Scalp May Be Sensitive And You May Lose Hair Wherever It Grows On Your Body

When youre in chemotherapy, chemicals are introduced to your body to disrupt cancer cells, so that they cant multiply. This same disruption interferes with your hair follicles ability to produce new hair cells. The result is a sensitive scalp and, often, hair that falls out close to the root from wherever it grows on your body.

A 2019 survey indicated that participants saw hair loss, on average, 18 days after their chemo treatments.

If the medication used for your chemotherapy does make your hair fall out, your hair may grow back in a little differently than it did before.

Try Hair Regrowth Treatment

Some drugs encourage hair regrowth after chemotherapy, but the results vary. Most hair regrowth drugs aim to treat hair loss resulting from causes other than chemotherapy.

Some research has suggested that minoxidil might speed up hair regrowth or reduce hair loss during chemotherapy.

Doctors may, for example, recommend Rogaine for people who have had tamoxifen therapy for breast cancer. However, it can be messy and expensive. Pharmacies usually offer other forms of minoxidil that are cheaper.

A person should discuss the risks and benefits of hair regrowth treatments with their doctor before using them.

Read Also: Icd 10 Code For Small Cell Lung Cancer

What Are My Options

There are many ways to cover up hair loss. Hats, scarves and turbans are popular options for men and women.

  • hats there are many styles to choose from
  • scarves versatile with many colour and fabric options, lightweight materials such as cotton are best
  • turbans easy to wear and widely available
  • wigs you can continue with a familiar style or try something new

Some hats, headbands or bandanas have optional fringe or hair attachments. If you still have some hair, changing your hairstyle can help cover up hair loss. Specialist hairdressers like mynewhair can offer advice.

In certain situations surgery to replace hair might be an option if your hair loss is permanent. This treatment is not available through the NHS.

You may not want to wear anything on your head. Accessories, clothing and makeup can express your style and draw attention away from hair loss.

/ Does Hair Loss After Chemo Hurt

Avoiding hair loss during Chemotherapy

Some people feel pain when their hair starts to fall out. This is often called scalp pain. But others only experience itching or an odd, tickly feeling. It generally only lasts a few days or weeks and experiences vary from person to person. A soothing scalp mist may help to soothe, moisturise and nourish your sensitive scalp.

Don’t Miss: Best Shampoo For Hair Loss After Radiation

Managing Your Hair Loss

Losing your hair can cause more than a change in your physical appearance. It can be an emotional challenge that affects your self-image and quality of life. It is important to be kind to yourself during this stressful time.

People cope with hair loss in different ways. Thinking about how you feel most comfortable in managing hair loss before, during, and after treatment may help. And, your choices may change over time.

Cold cap therapy

Wearing a cap that cools the scalp can help prevent hair loss from drugs given through a vein. This treatment is called scalp cryotherapy. You wear the cap before, during, and after chemotherapy.

The cold makes the blood vessels in the skin of your head narrower. Less blood and less of the chemotherapy drug reaches your hair follicles through the blood vessels. Keeping your scalp very cold also helps prevent damage to the hair follicles. Talk with your health care team to learn if cold cap therapy is available and might work for you.


An over-the-counter medication called minoxidil may help thinning hair from hormonal therapy or targeted therapy. It may also help if your hair does not grow back completely after chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a stem cell/bone marrow transplant.

There are also other medications you can take by mouth. These include spironolactone and finasteride .

About Hair Loss Or Hair Thinning

Hair loss is one of the most well known side effects of cancer treatment. For many people losing their hair can be distressing and devastating.

It can be a constant reminder of your cancer and what youre going through. But for most people, their hair will grow back once treatment has finished.

Cancer drugs can cause:

  • mild thinning of your hair
  • partial hair loss, or loss of patches of hair
  • complete hair loss

Chemotherapy is the type of cancer drug treatment most likely to cause hair loss.

Complete hair loss is very unlikely with any other type of treatment. But some other cancer drugs can cause hair thinning. It is not possible to tell beforehand who will be affected or how badly.

Hair loss also depends on factors such as:

  • the type of drug or combination of drugs you are taking
  • how sensitive you are to the drug
  • your drug treatment in the past

Also Check: Memorial Hospital For Cancer And Allied Diseases

A Full New Layer Of Hair

Jessica started using the scalp cooling system in May 2019, when she had the first of eight chemotherapy sessions. About an hour before each session, she applied a conditioning treatment to her hair, then donned a cap connected to a refrigeration machine.

The treatment ended about an hour after each chemotherapy session. Overall, the cooling treatment lengthened each session by about two hours.

Jessica tolerated the treatments well.

Its cold when you first put on the cap, but you get used to it, she says. The more annoying part was wearing a tight cap for a long period of time.

While some patients experience a headache, most report minimal if any discomfort, says Dr. Kohli. The most common complaint is feeling cold, which can be managed by simply bundling up with blankets and a warm drink.

Its low-risk and very safe, she says.

Insurance coverage for scalp cooling is spotty, and out-of-pocket costs can run as high as $2,200, regardless of how many treatments a patient undergoes. Jessica says the money she paid was well spent.

I kept my hair almost until the end of my treatments when it became thin and I started wearing hats, says Jessica, who completed chemotherapy late last summer. Then, about three weeks after my last chemo session, I had a full, new layer of hair on my head. It was about a quarter-of-an-inch to half-an-inch thick. Now it seems to be growing nearly twice as fast as normal.

Its very satisfying to be able to ease peoples fears, she adds.

Is It Possible To Not Lose Hair During Chemo

Before and after photos of clients with a wide range of hair loss ...

Whether or not you will have side effects during cancer treatment depends on a variety of factors, including your overall health, the drug dosage, and the types of medication you take. A number of chemo drugs, for example, don’t cause hair loss because they are better able to target cancer cells not healthy cells.

Recommended Reading: How To Prevent Childhood Cancer

Latest news
Related news