Cancer and Hair Loss

Cancer and Hair Loss

 

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Cancer and Hair Loss

 

 

How can I prepare for my impending hair loss?

 

Each have their own way of coping and preparing.  Many cancer patients will cut their hair and wear it in a shorter style a few weeks before they lose their hair. This helps to make the hair loss a bit less traumatic as and will also make the hair loss easier to manage when it begins to happen.

Many find that by shaving their head just before their hair loss happens, or when it starts to come out, that they regain a sense of control over the situation.

This also eliminates the trauma of hair falling out over a period of days. Most chemotherapy patients find that they gain peace of mind by being prepared and proactively shopping for head wear and wigs before their hair loss happens.

 

Others decide to forgo hats and wigs altogether and go bald.

 

 

No matter what you decide, having something warm for your head in the evenings is a must.  Also, considering sun protection is essential.   Again, the process is as unique as you are so go with what feels right for you.

 

 

Will I lose my eyebrows and eyelashes, too?

Every person reacts differently to treatments. It is common to not only lose scalp hair but also the hair on the rest of your body. This includes eyebrows and eyelashes. There are several options for replacing your eyebrows and eyelashes.

 

 

How long after chemotherapy will it take for my hair to fall out?

Drugs used during chemotherapy treat cancer by attacking the cancer causing cells in a patient’s body. Unfortunately, these drugs can also attack hair growth cells as well. Whether or not you experience hair loss during chemotherapy depends on the type of treatment, medication, and dosage you receive.

 

Most chemotherapy patients report losing their hair approximately 2-4 weeks after starting treatment.

Hair may come out in clumps or in single strands, all at once or gradually.  You may notice loose hair on your pillow, in your hair brush or shower drain.

If your hair falls out a lot at night, consider a sleep cap for for comfort and to catch the hair. A sleep cap can also help with the tenderness that chemotherapy treatments may also cause.

 

 

 

 

 

Does everyone who undergoes chemotherapy lose their hair?

No. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause hair loss.  Others merely cause thinning of the hair. Others may not cause hair loss at all.

Fortunately, in most cases, hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary. Consult with your doctor to determine the likelihood of hair loss in your particular situation.

 

 

How do I take care of my bald scalp?

It is very important to protect your skin during treatments. Your scalp will be especially sensitive to burning without the protection your hair provides. Apply a high quality full spectrum sunscreen, such as Elta Block, before exposing your scalp to the sun.

 

 

Alra Mild Conditioning Shampoo
 

 

Your skin can become dry during treatments. Wash your scalp using a gentle shampoo, such as Alra Shampoo.

 

As your hair begins to come back in, it may be brittle or dry. You will want to continue using the gentle shampoo in order to keep the hair nourished and encourage continued growth as your hair comes back in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How will my hair loss affect my daily life?

 

Psychological Affects:

Because the causes for hair loss vary greatly, almost anyone can be affected by it. While hair loss is not a specifically medically serious condition, it can have a significant psychological impact on an individual.

Some people experience a wide range of emotions during and following hair loss. These emotions can include anger, depression, sadness and fear. They can also affect friends and family members.

 

 

Often, wearing a head cover, hat or hairpiece can help to quell some of the negative emotions associated with hair loss by making the wearer less self-conscious of the physical affects of their condition.

 

 

 

Physical Affects:

Additionally, there may be multiple physical affects of hair loss to deal with on a daily basis.

 

 

Common physical affects of hair loss include:

 

Cold Head: Most of a person’s body heat is lost through the top of the head and scalp. This is especially true at night when the body is at rest. However, when hair is covering the head, the heat does not escape as easily.

When experiencing hair loss, most people will find that their head gets cold rather quickly, especially at night.

I recommend wearing a sleep cap or covering of some sort at night to prevent chills and promote rest.

Cold weather can also cause discomfort to a bald or balding head. A soft, warm cap or beanie is great for blocking wind and snow.

 

Sunburned Scalp: A bare scalp receives more exposure to the elements than one with hair covering it. To prevent sunburns on the scalp, always apply a high SPF sunscreen before sun exposure. Most hats and head covers will protect your head from the sun, while also keeping the sun out of the eyes and off of the face.

 

What will my hair look like when it grows back in?

It is unique to every individual. Some find that it comes back in the same as it was before treatments. Others will find that it may grow back with a different texture, fullness or even a different color than it was before the treatments.

 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/e6/28/84/e62884edac532e0c1ba7cf504367417b.jpg

 

These changes are usually temporary and most individuals find that their hair will return to its original color and texture after several months.

 

 

How do I take care of my hair when it comes back in?

Hair may take several weeks after finishing treatment to begin regrowth.

Hair after chemotherapy or radiation is often lacking protein and weak. Therefore it is recommended that you:

 

Use gentle, vitamin induced shampoos free of dyes (See Alra Shampoo)

Avoid harsh or strenuous brushing

Use a soft massaging brush

Avoid or use gentle settings when using hairdryers

 

 

Try this Semi Oval 100 Soft Boar Wood Handle For Very Fine Hair is very gentle To The scalp. The soft bristle is specially designed for fine thin hair and balding men or women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing your hair as part of illness or chemotherapy can be upsetting.  Being kind to yourself, protecting your scalp and finding an attractive head covering (if you wish) can help.

 

 

 

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Chemotherapy & Hair Loss

Chemotherapy & Hair Loss

 

 

You might not think about how important your hair is until you face losing it. And if you have cancer and are about to undergo chemotherapy, the chance of hair loss is very real. Both men and women report hair loss as one of the side effects they fear most after being diagnosed with cancer. (Image above – Padded & Folded Headcover)

 Whether you have hair loss from your chemotherapy depends mostly on the type and dose of medication you receive. But whether you can maintain a healthy body image after hair loss depends a lot on your attitude and the support of your friends and family.

 

 

Chemotherapy and Hair Loss: Why It Occurs

 

Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications that attack rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body — including those in your hair roots.

Chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over your body — not just on your scalp. Sometimes your eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic and other body hair also falls out. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, and different doses can cause anything from a mere thinning to complete baldness.

Talk to your doctor or nurse about the medication you’ll be taking. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what to expect.

Fortunately, most of the time hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary. You can expect to regrow your hair three to six months after your treatment ends, though your hair may temporarily be a different shade or texture.

 

 

Chemotherapy and Hair Loss:  What to Expect

 

Hair usually begins falling out two to four weeks after you start treatment.

It could fall out very quickly in clumps or gradually. You’ll likely notice accumulations of loose hair on your pillow, in your hairbrush or comb, or in your sink or shower drain. Your scalp may feel tender.

Your hair loss will continue throughout your treatment and up to a few weeks afterward. Whether your hair thins or you become completely bald will depend on your treatment.

People with cancer report hair loss as a distressing side effect of treatment. Each time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, your changed appearance is a reminder of your illness and everything you’ve experienced since your diagnosis.

It may take several weeks after treatment for your hair to recover and begin growing again. When your hair starts to grow back, it will probably be slightly different from the hair you lost. But the difference is usually temporary. Your new hair might have a different texture or color. It might be curlier than it was before, or it could be gray until the cells that control the pigment in your hair begin functioning again.

 

 

Is Prevention Possible?

 

No treatment exists that can guarantee your hair won’t fall out during or after chemotherapy. The best way for you to deal with impending hair loss is to plan ahead and focus on making yourself comfortable with your appearance before, during and after your cancer treatment.

 Several treatments have been investigated as possible ways to prevent hair loss, but none has been absolutely effective, including:

 

 

Scalp hypothermia (cryotherapy). During your chemotherapy infusions, ice packs or similar devices are placed on your head to slow blood flow to your scalp. This way, chemotherapy drugs are less likely to have an effect on your hair.

Studies of scalp hypothermia have found it works somewhat in the majority of people who have tried it. However, the procedure also causes a small risk of cancer recurring in your scalp, as this area doesn’t receive the same dose of chemotherapy as the rest of your body. People undergoing scalp hypothermia report feeling uncomfortably cold and having headaches.

 

Minoxidil (Rogaine). Applying minoxidil — a drug approved for hair loss in men and women — to your scalp before and during chemotherapy isn’t likely to prevent your hair loss, although some research shows it may speed up your hair regrowth. More research is needed to understand whether minoxidil is effective in regrowing hair after cancer treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

Managing Hair Loss

 

Your hair loss generally can’t be prevented or controlled, but it can be managed. Take the following steps throughout your treatment to minimize the frustration and anxiety associated with hair loss.

 

 

 

Before Treatment

 

Be gentle to your hair. Get in the habit of being kind to your hair. Don’t bleach, color or perm your hair — this can weaken it. Air-dry your hair as much as possible and avoid heating devices such as curling irons and hot rollers. Strengthening your hair now might make it more likely to stay in your head a little longer during treatment.

 

Consider cutting your hair. Short hair tends to look fuller than long hair. So as your hair falls out, it won’t be as noticeable if you have short hair. Also, if you have long hair, going short might help you make a better transition to total hair loss.

 

Plan for a head covering. Now is the time to start thinking about wigs, turbans, scarves or hats.  Whether you choose to wear a head covering to conceal your hair loss is up to you. But it’s easier to plan for it now rather than later. Ask your doctor to write a prescription for a wig, the cost of which may be covered by your health insurance.

 

 

 

During Treatment

 

Baby your remaining hair. Continue your gentle hair strategies throughout your chemotherapy treatment. Use a soft brush, such as this Boar Bristle Soft Club Brush from Magic.

 

 

Magic Reinforced Boar Bristle Soft Club Brush #7721

 

 

 

Wash your hair only as often as necessary. Consider using a gentle shampoo such as Alra Mild Conditioning Shampoo, which has been specially formulated for fragile hair and itching scalp during and after cancer treatment.

 

Consider shaving your head. Some people report that their scalps feel itchy, sensitive and irritated during their treatments and while their hair is falling out. Shaving your head can reduce the irritation and save the embarrassment of shedding. Some men shave their heads because they feel it looks better than the patchy hair loss they might be experiencing.

 

 

This Abbey Cap Comes in 33 Colors and Patterns

 

 

 

Protect your scalp. If your head is going to be exposed to the sun or to cold air, protect it with sunscreen or a head covering. Your scalp may be sensitive as you go through treatment, so extreme cold or sunshine can easily irritate it.

Having no hair or having less hair can make you feel cold, so a head covering may make you more comfortable.  You may also want a sleep cap for nighttime comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Soft Comfy Chemo Cap and Sleep Turban – 11 Colors Available

 

 

 

After Treatment

 

 

Continue gentle hair care. Your new hair growth will be especially fragile and vulnerable to the damage caused by styling products and heating devices. Hold off on coloring or bleaching your new hair until it grows stronger. Processing could damage your new hair and irritate your sensitive scalp.

 

Be patient. It’s likely that your hair will come back slowly and that it might not look normal right away. But growth takes time, and it also takes time to repair the damage caused by your cancer treatment.

 

 

 

Covering Your Head

 

Covering your head as your hair falls out is a purely personal decision. For many women hair is associated with femininity and health, so they choose to maintain that look by wearing a wig. Others choose hats and scarves. Still others choose not to cover their heads at all.

 Ask your doctor or a hospital social worker about resources in your area to help you find the best head covering for you. Look Good Feel Better is a free program that provides hair and beauty makeovers and tips to women with cancer. These classes are offered throughout the United States and in several other countries. Many classes are offered through local chapters of the American Cancer Society. Look Good Feel Better also offers classes for teens with cancer, as well as a website with information for men with cancer.

 

 

 

Radiation Therapy

 

Radiation therapy also attacks quickly growing cells in your body, but unlike chemotherapy, it affects only the specific area where treatment is concentrated. If you have radiation to your head, you’ll likely lose the hair on your head.

Your hair usually begins growing back after your treatments end. But whether it grows back to its original thickness and fullness depends on your treatment. Different types of radiation and different doses will have different effects on your hair. Higher doses of radiation can cause permanent hair loss. Talk to your doctor about what dose you’ll be receiving so that you’ll know what to expect.

Radiation therapy also affects your skin. The treatment area is likely to be red and may look sunburned or tanned. If your radiation treatment is to your head, it’s a good idea to cover your head with a protective hat or scarf because your skin will be sensitive to cold and sunlight. Wigs and other hairpieces might irritate your scalp.

 

Thoughts, questions, tips?  Feel free to comment below.