Talking With Your Health Care Team About Hair Loss
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?
Ways To Manage Hair Loss
Talk with your health care team about ways to manage before and after hair loss:
- Treat your hair gently. You may want to use a hairbrush with soft bristles or a wide-tooth comb. Do not use hair dryers, irons, or products such as gels or clips that may hurt your scalp. Wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Wash it less often and be very gentle. Pat it dry with a soft towel.
- You have choices. Some people choose to cut their hair short to make it easier to deal with when it starts to fall out. Others choose to shave their head. If you choose to shave your head, use an electric shaver so you wont cut yourself. If you plan to buy a wig, get one while you still have hair so you can match it to the color of your hair. If you find wigs to be itchy and hot, try wearing a comfortable scarf or turban.
- Protect and care for your scalp. Use sunscreen or wear a hat when you are outside. Choose a comfortable scarf or hat that you enjoy and that keeps your head warm. If your scalp itches or feels tender, using lotions and conditioners can help it feel better.
- Talk about your feelings. Many people feel angry, depressed, or embarrassed about hair loss. It can help to share these feelings with someone who understands. Some people find it helpful to talk with other people who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. Talking openly and honestly with your children and close family members can also help you all. Tell them that you expect to lose your hair during treatment.
Natural Ways To Manage Hair Loss
Hair loss may be unavoidable when receiving cancer treatments, but there are natural ways to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy. You can manage it and ensure that your hair will grow back thicker and stronger once your treatment is done.
Here are some things you can do during and after your chemotherapy treatments to manage hair loss.
Also Check: Brain Cancer Radiation Side Effects
Why Will I Lose My Hair During Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, attack fast-growing cancer cells. These treatments can also affect normal cells that grow fast, such as hair cells.
Chemotherapy can cause hair loss on your scalp, pubic area, arms, legs, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Radiation therapy to your head often causes hair loss on your scalp. Sometimes, depending on the dose of radiation to your head, your hair may grow back differently from how it looked before, or it may not grow back at all.
Recommended Reading: Radiation For Breast Cancer And Lung Damage
When Can I Have My First Haircut
There is no rule as to when you can first cut your hair it all depends on the condition of your hair and what style you are aiming for. It is an entirely personal decision.
Quite often hair grows at different rates so you may want to trim one area and not another. For example, many people find that there are longer sprouts of hairs that they want to snip at, in particular on the area around the ears and hairline that can feel untidy if they stick out. These areas commonly need a trim before the rest and it is fine to do so. For more in-depth information about hair cutting take a look in our New Hair Growth section
You May Like: What Color Is Testicular Cancer Ribbon
Ways To Care For Your Hair When It Grows Back
- Be gentle. When your hair starts to grow back, you will want to be gentle with it. Avoid too much brushing, curling, and blow-drying. You may not want to wash your hair as frequently.
- After chemotherapy. Hair often grows back in 2 to 3 months after treatment has ended. Your hair will be very fine when it starts to grow back. Sometimes your new hair can be curlier or straighteror even a different color. In time, it may go back to how it was before treatment.
- After radiation therapy. Hair often grows back in 3 to 6 months after treatment has ended. If you received a very high dose of radiation your hair may grow back thinner or not at all on the part of your body that received radiation.
Do All Cancer Patients Lose Hair
No, not all cancer patients lose hair.
Do all cancer patients lose hair?
No, not all cancer patients lose their hair due to cancer treatment. Two patients may have different side effects of the same drug that can cause hair loss. One patient may experience hair loss while the other patient may not.
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to why this is the case. The type of cancer treatment can play a role. For example, chemotherapy drugs that target rapidly dividing cells are more likely to cause hair loss than other types of drugs. Patients who undergo radiation therapy to the head are also more likely to lose their hair.
There are also individual differences that can contribute to whether or not a patient loses their hair. For example, some people may be more sensitive to the side effects of certain drugs than others. Additionally, the health of a persons hair follicles may play a role. People with healthier hair follicles may be less likely to experience hair loss than those with weaker follicles.
There are a variety of opinions on this topic. Some people believe that all cancer patients should expect to lose their hair during treatment. Others believe that it is possible for some cancer patients to avoid hair loss by using different treatments or by taking precautions such as using low doses of drugs or using drugs that have lower rates of hair loss.
Also Check: 2nd Chemo Worse Than 1st
What Does Becky With The Good Hair Mean
If you didnt know what call Becky with the good hair meant without Googling, put your pen down. . . . Put aside the gossip for a second to dig a bit deeper. . . . This is about so much more than her working through a man cheating. Its about black womanhood and that journey of coming into your own.
You May Like: Recipes For Cancer Patients On Chemo And Radiation
A Variety Of Head Coverings Are Available
If you feel self-conscious about hair loss, wearing a head covering might help. From scarves to hats to wigs, there are many options. These coverings can also protect your head from exposure to sunlight and cold air.
If you think you might want a wig that matches your natural hair color, consider buying it before you begin chemotherapy. This may help the wig shop better match the color and texture of your hair. Try on different styles until you find one you like.
Recommended Reading: The Radiation From Cell Phones
When Your Hair Starts To Come Out
Focus on self-care. Wash your hair as little as possible, and use gentle products. Take care of your scalp. Wear a hat or scarf to protect it from heat and cold, and apply a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 every day. And if your scalp itches or feels sensitive, go easy with your brush or comb. Avoid rollers, hair dryers, and irons. You can also style your hair with your fingers instead.
If chemo-related hair loss triggers tough emotions, be gentle with yourself. Some people going through this feel depressed, anxious, frustrated, angry, or a combination of emotions. This may be something you want to discuss in a support group or with a counselor who works with people dealing with cancer. Give yourself room to feel and work through whatever comes up.
Timing Of Chemo Hair Loss
Hair loss often begins 10 to 14 days after starting chemotherapy, though this can vary. Some people may notice hair loss just a few days after their first infusion, whereas others may not lose all of their hair until several infusions have been completed.
Your hair may thin gradually, or fall out rapidly in clumps. Many people are surprised that hair loss is frequently not limited to the hair on your head but can affect eyebrows, eyelashes, body hair, and even pubic hair.
Don’t Miss: Care Package For Someone Going Through Chemo
Hair Regrowth After Chemo
For most people, chemo-related hair loss is temporary. After chemo stops and your follicles are healthy, your hair should start to grow back. Look for regrowth to start within 3-6 months from your last treatment. You may even see a bit of regrowth while youâre still in treatment.
If you choose to wear a scarf or wig, you can continue to do so for as long as you want — it wonât damage or stunt your new hair.
New hair needs lots of TLC. It may show up in patches, or even with a different color or texture than it did before.
Donât color, bleach, perm, or straighten it: Much like the rest of your body, itâs best if you give it a chance to grow healthy and strong.
What Will My Chemo Schedule Be
How often and how long you get chemo will depend on the type of cancer you have. It will also depend on the type of chemo you need, side effects, and how well the chemo works. You may be given more than one medicine at a time. You may take oral chemo daily, weekly, or once or twice a month. Chemo is often given in cycles over a period of several months or more. This means that you will get the medicine for a period of time, and then you will have a break from it. This allows your body to grow new, healthy cells.
You May Like: Side Effects Of Radiation In Breast Cancer
Read Also: Urine Test For Cancer Cells
Other Hair Loss Symptoms
Hair may fall out in clumps or seem like it is thinning as you lose a few strands at a time from all over your scalp. Depending on the type of chemotherapy used, you could lose the hair on your head only, or also on all parts of your body, including the eyelashes and eyebrows, arm, legs, underarms, and pubic area.
Other symptoms you may experience include:
- Scalp itching, tenderness, or dryness
- Scalp sensitivity
- Increased skin sensitivity to the sun
- Red or darkened skin or other pigment changes
- Remaining hair may be dull or dry
Is Radiation Contributing To My Hair Loss Too
Some people receive both radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and both can contribute to hair loss. Radiation affects hair only on the area of the body that is treated. This may mean the hair on that area is lost, but not the hair on your scalp . At lower doses, radiation hair loss is temporary, but at higher doses it can be permanent.
Also Check: Abdominal Pain Radiates To Back
How Long Does Hair Fall Last
Hair loss usually begins two to four months after the incident that caused the condition and lasts around six months. New hairs begin to develop soon after a hair falls out, although considerable growth may not be seen for several months. Hair that is not caught before it drops will stay off the scalp for several weeks or months before falling out.
On average, men lose about 100 strands per day. Women can lose as much as 30-50 strands each day. Strands that are not lost due to natural processes such as aging or disease development call for action. There are many factors that can cause individuals to lose their hair, with some causes being medical problems, medications, stress, and more.
Hair falls out because of how our bodies work. When we experience an event that causes pain or injury to the head, the first thing that happens is that blood flows into the area to protect other parts of the body. This results in new cells forming inside the scalp where they remain until they reach the end of their lifespan, which is usually about 110 years for women and 120 years for men. As these cells die they release pigment that gives your hairits color. Over time this process leaves your hair thinning or bald on top. However, the bottom line is that hair falls out because of how our bodies work there is no need for alarm unless you cannot explain the reason for your hairs absence.
How To Tackle Hair Loss Caused By Chemotherapy
Although most of the drugs used in the treatment of cancer can cause hair loss, some of them do not. The pattern of hair loss differs from drug to drug. While some will cause a rapid loss of hair, others might start off with the thinning of hair.
It is also important to talk to your doctor so they can the side effects can be explained before going into the therapy. It is a good idea to let your family know what to expect, especially the young ones.
You can choose a scarf or a wig to wear after the loss of hair occurs. The loss of hair by chemotherapy is temporary. The hair that grows after the therapy might also be of a different shade from the original. This is also temporary.
However, you could reduce the impact of chemotherapy drugs on your hair follicles using a cooling cap.
Recommended Reading: Signs Of Cancer In The Foot
How Chemotherapy Affects New Hair Growth Following Treatment
Your hair is made up of living cells at their roots, or hair follicles. Typically, the rest of your hair is in various stages of resting or falling out. Chemotherapy is a treatment plan where a drug, or combination of drugs, is administered either orally or through an IV. The reason chemotherapy causes hair loss is because hair follicles are one of the fastest growing cells in the human body, and when compromised by chemotherapy this prevents the hair follicles from growing.
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.
Also Check: How Does Radiation Treatment Work
/ 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.
How Chemo Affects Cells
Cancer cells tend to divide very quicklyat a much higher rate than most of the cells in the body. They ignore the signals and mechanisms that tell normal cells to stop dividing.
Some normal cells in our bodies also rapidly divide, like hair follicle cells, the mucous membrane cells lining of the digestive tract , and the blood-producing cells in the bone marrow.
Chemotherapy drugs damage the genetic material inside rapidly dividing cells that guide cell division. Because these drugs cannot tell the difference between rapidly dividing healthy and cancer cells, the drug also affects healthy cells.
The hair follicles have a good blood supply, which unfortunately allows chemotherapy drugs to reach them efficiently. About 65% of people who receive chemotherapy will experience hair loss. The amount of hair loss can depend on which chemotherapy agent is used and the timing, dose, and route of administration. It can also vary from person to person, and it’s hard to predict who will be affected most.
About 90% of your scalp hair is in the active growth phase at any one time. This hair will be affected by chemotherapy agents.
There are multiple classes of chemotherapy drugs, each of which affects a different part of the cell growth cycle or acts in a different way. Which agent is chosen depends on the type of cancer.
You May Like: Survival Rates Stage 3 Colon Cancer
Chemotherapy Commonly Asked Q& A
Our new Hair Loss Help at Homeservice has been launched to support during the current Coronavirus situation.
We hope that our Chemotherapy guide will help you to navigate information and choices on a broad range of hair loss and hair care related topics. In this section we have put together essential questions and answers.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the thousands of women who have joined us on-line and shared their experiences so that we, together with the experts, can offer you guidance and ideas.
We understand that you may be anxious about hair loss so lets start by making sure you have a good understanding of hair loss and some of the myths. Then you can discover what is available so that you can keep your unique sense of style. Why not pop the kettle on, find somewhere cosy and take your time to look through our most commonly asked questions and answers.
Read Also: How To Save Eyebrows During Chemo