Saturday, February 17, 2024

Which Chemo Drugs Cause Hair Loss

Do All Chemotherapies Cause Hair Loss

Cancer survivor says chemo drug caused permanent hair loss

Many chemotherapy drugs do not affect your hair. Others cause mild hair thinning or total hair loss. Your care team can tell you if you will lose any hair. Scalp hair is the most often affected. Loss of eyelashes, eyebrows, facial hair, pubic hair, and body hair can also happen. How much hair you lose depends on the chemotherapy drug and dose, how it is given, and other treatments.

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.

How Will Eyelashes Brows & Facial Hair Be Affected

If chemotherapy causes your scalp hair to fall often other body hair can also be affected. Your facial hair, including eyebrows and lashes are also likely to fall out. This is also the case if you are having scalp cooling because scalp cooling only helps to reduce hair loss on the scalp.

Read more in our entire section dedicated to Eyebrows & eyelashes.

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Hormone Replacement Therapy For Menopausal Hair Loss

Hormone replacement therapy, sometimes called menopausal hormone therapy, is a popular treatment among menopausal and postmenopausal women who wants to supplement the estrogen that the body loses upon reaching menopause age.

HRT can improve the effects of menopause and provide relief from its discomforting symptoms. Likewise, it can offer benefits for serious health complications that older and postmenopausal women may be at risk for such as osteoporosis and colon cancer. There are two main types of hormone therapy:

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Coping With Hair Loss When You Have Cancer

Hair Growth &  Styling Tips for Short Hair After Chemo

Despite the difficulty facing hair loss when you have cancer, some things can help you cope with the loss of your natural hair. Try to remember some of the following:

Dont assume you will experience permanent hair loss.

Some cancer patients take comfort in the fact that hair loss is usually temporary, and they can begin to see new hair growth soon after the end of their treatment cycle.

Dont assume your hair loss will be total.

Others find relief when they realize they might not experience complete hair loss. These patients might be very happy to have thin hair instead of no hair.

Not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss.

Speak to your doctor or another member of your health care team about what to expect regarding hair loss. The more you know, the more prepared you can be. Ask if you will lose all your hair or some of your hair. Find out how soon after you start treatment you can expect to begin losing your hair.

There might be ways to reduce the trauma of hair loss.

Sometimes, feeling like you have control can help you cope with hair loss. For example, some people take steps to minimize the anxiety of hair loss by cutting their hair short before starting treatment.

Others make sure they stock up on gentle hair products like a soft baby brush, wide-toothed comb, and mild shampoo so they can protect their remaining hair.

Inquire about methods of minimizing hair loss.

Consider head coverings.

Get support.

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Holistic Support For Hair Health

There are many tools available in a toolkit for holistic hair health, like a healthy and balanced diet, exercise, getting enough sleep and proactively managing stress levels. But while dealing with a cancer diagnosis and undergoing chemotherapy, many of these tools might be out of reach. Know that doing whatever you can to get through this is just what you can and should be doing.

Here are a few tools and tips to consider making use of.

The Look Good Feel Better Program

The Look Good Feel Better program is designed to help people cope with the effects that cancer treatment can have on their appearance. During weekly sessions, makeup artists teach makeup techniques, skin and nail care, and hair styling and head-covering options. To register for a class, call Look Good Feel Better at 800-395-LOOK or visit

Men can find information at

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Chemo Hair Fall Timeline

Patients undergoing a chemotherapy treatment will notice different levels of hair loss depending on the pattern of medication, dosage and type of cancer.

  • A lot of patients experience hair fall within the first 1 or 2 weeks of treatment itself.
  • Hair loss usually tends to begin from the side of the ears and top of the head. However, it varies for each individual.
  • By about 3 months, complete balding may occur.
  • Patients tend to notice their hair regrowing after 1 to 3 months. A change in hair color and texture may be evident but are usually not permanent.
  • 60 percent of patients have reported a change in their color and hair type.

Did You Know?

  • About 65 percent of patients undergoing chemotherapy experience alopecia .

Hair Loss After Chemotherapy: 10 Things To Know

Hair loss from chemotherapy: what is it? who gets it? how do we treat it?

If you need chemotherapy as a part of your cancer treatment, you might have some concerns about losing your hair. But does every chemotherapy drug cause hair loss? And is there anything you can do to prevent this possible side effect?

We talked to Deepti Chopra, M.B.B.S., a body image specialist in our Psychiatric Oncology Center. Heres what she wants patients to know.

What are the most common causes of hair loss during cancer treatment?

Most hair loss during cancer treatment is caused by chemotherapy. Thats because chemo targets rapidly growing cells, which damages hair follicles and makes the hair fall out. But radiation therapy can sometimes cause hair loss, too, when its used to treat head and neck cancers. It depends on the area thats receiving radiation.

Do all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss?

No. Not all chemotherapy drugs have hair loss as a possible side effect. Check with your care team to find out if its a potential side effect for the drugs youll be taking.

Will every patient who receives chemotherapy lose their hair?

No. Everyone has a different response. Some people might lose all of their body hair, while others experience only mild thinning.

How soon does hair loss usually appear after cancer treatment begins?

It generally becomes noticeable after about three weeks. Head hair usually goes first, followed by hair from other areas of the body. But again, everyone responds differently, so it could be sooner or later, depending on the individual.

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Chemotherapy Drugs That Cause Hair Loss

When people hear the word chemotherapy, they usually think that hair loss is one of its main side effects.An estimated 65% of patients receiving classic chemotherapy experience what their doctors say hair loss. However, not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss, and the severity of hair loss or thinning can depend on a variety of factors.

Read on to learn more about why chemotherapy drugs can cause hair loss, which drugs are more likely to cause hair loss, and when hair loss occurs. Your healthcare provider can also give you more information about your treatment options and condition.

Hormone Therapies And Hair Loss In Men

As with women, men on hormone treatments may also experience miniaturization and notice the onset and worsening of androgenetic alopecia.

Testosterone replacement therapies used for people with low levels of this hormone have hair loss as a side effect. The use of anabolic steroids, to increase muscle mass can in turn lead to the onset of these problems.

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Conventional Hair Loss Treatment

There are several options when it comes to conventional treatment of hair loss, all of which come with significant side effects unless you opt for a wig or hair piece. The most common conventional hair loss remedies include topical minoxidil, oral finasteride, topical or oral hormones and steroids, hair transplants, and hair restoration surgery.

An example of very commonly used and conventional topical treatment is minoxidil. One of the most well-known versions is Rogaine. Conventional hair growth products like Rogaine are available without a prescription and can be used by both men and women. Finasteride is an oral medication for hair loss in men only and requires a prescription. Both minoxidil and finasteride do not get to the root of hair loss and only work to regrow hair as long as you use these medications. Once you stop using them, the hair growth, if any, will stop.

Surgery is another conventional option thats more costly and invasive. First there is hair transplantation surgery, which takes hair from another area of the scalp where hair is growing well and moves it to a balding or thinning area. This surgery is most commonly performed for male pattern baldness. Only around 5 percent of female hair loss sufferers are said to be good candidates for hair transplant surgery. This is due to the fact that unlike men who tend to lose hair in concentrated areas, women typically experience hair loss all over their scalps.

Precautions Regarding Hair Loss Remedies

What Is Chemotherapy

Which Chemo Drugs Cause Hair Loss

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment protocol used to treat a wide variety of cancers, along with other conditions like bone marrow diseases and immune system disorders. A wide variety of different chemotherapy drugs can be used alone or in combination and at varying dosages. These drugs are administered as pills, chemotherapy infusions , shots and creams.

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What Is Hair Loss

The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. Finding a few hair threads in your comb is not hair loss. You can lose up to 50-100 hairs daily without any decrease in hair density. If you are losing more than this, you are experiencing alopecia. With hair loss, you can note the following symptoms

  • Bald patches on the skin that grow with time
  • Hair thinning resulting in a thin ponytail in women and weaker and delicate hair at the margins in men.
  • A receding hairline leading to loss of hairline and margins

How Should I Care For My Hair While Receiving Chemotherapy

If hair thinning is expected, you can do these things to lessen the damage to your hair:

  • Use a soft bristle hairbrush.
  • Use a gentle, pH-balanced shampoo.
  • Avoid using hairdryers, hot rollers, or curling/flat irons too often.
  • Avoid bleaching or coloring your hair.
  • Avoid permanent waves.
  • Avoid braiding or placing hair in a ponytail.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase to decrease friction.
  • If your hair is long, cutting it shorter may help lessen the impact of your hair loss when it occurs.
  • Some people find it easier to deal with hair loss by shaving their heads before hair loss starts.
  • Protect your head with a hat to prevent sun exposure on sunny days- and not just in the summer months! This is important for men who are less likely to wear a wig or turban/scarf.

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Effect Of Other Cancer Therapies

The newer targeted therapies for cancer don’t usually cause total hair loss like chemotherapy drugs but can result in changes such as thinning of the hair and dryness, as well as changes in texture similar to chemo curls. Some targeted therapies may also affect the pigmentation of hair, often causing the hair to become darker.

Some of the targeted therapies that have been linked with hair changes or hair loss include:

  • Cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibitors such as Ibrance , Kisqali , and Verzenio
  • VEGF inhibitors such as Nexavar
  • BRAF inhibitors such as Zelboraf and Tafinlar
  • BCR/ABL inhibitors such as Tasigna and Gleevec

Some of the hormonal therapies commonly used for breast cancer have been associated with thinning of the hair for some people. Unlike chemotherapy, people may use hormonal therapies for many months or even years before they notice the changes in their hair. Hormonal therapies more often linked to hair loss include:

Immunotherapy drugs for cancer, at least checkpoint inhibitors, do not usually cause hair loss, though oftentimes these drugs are used along with chemotherapy. Researchers are looking at ways of harnessing the gene involved in autoimmune alopecia to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

How Can I Treat It

Local breast cancer survivor says chemotherapy drug caused permanent hair loss

Baldness is a natural process. Firstly you need to ask yourself whether you really want to treat it or if you can find a way to accept it rather than try to camouflage bald spots or regain your hair completely.

If you do want treatment, there are two drugs that can help.

Minoxidil lotion is applied twice daily to the scalp. Not available on NHS prescription, but can be purchased over-the-counter. About 60 per cent of patients benefit from it to varying degrees. Its effects start to wear off as soon as it is stopped.

Finasteride is a medicine taken in tablet form that partially blocks the effects of the male hormones . Propecia has been shown to halt further hair loss and promote re-growth of scalp hair in approximately 80 per cent of patients after three to six months. The treatment benefits also stop when you stop taking the medication. Only available on prescription and is available on some NHS primary care trust lists for certain conditions.

You might also consider cosmetic surgery, which is a reliable way to replace lost hair. Methods include transplants, scalp reductions and flap surgery although all are expensive long-term solutions.

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Coping With Hair Loss Due To Chemotherapy

Coping with chemotherapy-related hair loss can be difficult. Some people may opt to cut their hair short before it begins to fall out to lessen the emotional impact of chemotherapy-induced hair loss.Options for covering the scalp include wigs, hats or scarves. Wigs may be covered by insurance. If hair loss occurs in the eyelashes and eyebrows, artificial lashes and makeup can be useful. Support groups and/or counseling can be helpful when coping with the emotional effects of cancer and chemotherapy-related hair loss.Its important to protect your scalp with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 30 or higher.

Do All Chemotherapy Drugs Cause Hair Loss

No. Firstly its important to note that not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Many people assume that if they have chemotherapy treatment they will loose their hair. This is not always the case.

Whilst many chemotherapy treatments can cause hair loss some chemotherapy treatments wont cause any hair loss at all. Please check with your nurse specialist or oncologist to find out. If you already know the name of you chemotherapy drug you can also check on reputable websites such as Macmillan, Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Care and other organisations.

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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.

Tips For Hair Loss Or Thinning

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  • Use gentle hair products such as baby shampoos.
  • Don’t use perms or hair colours on thinning hair colours may not take well and perms can damage the hair.
  • Use a soft baby brush and comb thinning hair gently.
  • Avoid using hair dryers, curling tongs, hair straighteners and curlers on thinning hair and pat your hair dry after washing.
  • If your scalp flakes or itches this means it is dry use oil or moisturiser, not dandruff shampoo.
  • Protect your scalp by covering your head in the sun.

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Will Stress Make Me Go Bald Quicker

Stress can cause hair loss but hair loss caused by stress is rarely permanent. Whether stress speeds up the process of hereditary baldness is unknown.

There is a form of hair loss that can be caused by severe stress called telogen effluvium, which interrupts the growth cycle of your hair follicles causing hair to shed. But in the long term this process should correct itself.

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