Effect of Cancer with Hair Loss

Friday, November 2, 2012
Chemotherapy hair loss is an unfortunate reality that many cancer patients have to face. Chemotherapy hair loss is not caused by all chemotherapy drugs, but it is a common after effect.

Chemotherapy hair loss may include scalp, facial, axillary, pubic and body hair. Varying from slight thinning to complete loss of hair, chemotherapy hair loss occurs over a period of days or weeks. After completion of therapy, regrowth usually occurs in six to eight weeks.

Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy, but not all drugs cause hair loss. Talk to your healthcare team about what to expect. In most cases, your hair loss will be temporary.

If you start to lose your hair, you may find that it becomes thinner or falls out entirely. It may be sudden or gradual. Hair loss can occur on all parts of the body – you may lose the hair on your head, some or all of your eyelashes and eyebrows, and body hair (including pubic, chest and underarm hair). You may also notice that your scalp feels tender.

Many people find that their hair starts to grow back before their chemotherapy treatment is finished or very soon afterwards. Some people find that their new hair is slightly different in colour or texture.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America understands that chemotherapy hair loss, and changes in skin and body can be devastating after effects of cancer treatment. CTCA's Cosmetic Image Enhancement program helps women and men prepare for radiation therapy and chemotherapy hair loss. Image Enhancement program classes and seminars for you and your loved ones are designed by community members, beauticians, cosmetologists and salon personnel. These classes are designed to help you plan ahead for chemotherapy hair loss.

Be gentle with your hair. Use a mild shampoo, a soft hairbrush and set your hair dryer on low heat or let your hair dry naturally.

Get a shorter cut if you have long or medium-length hair. This will make your hair look fuller and thicker. It might help to make any hair loss less dramatic for you.

Avoid dyeing, perming or straightening your hair during treatment. Talk to your healthcare team to find out when you can begin these activities again.

Try wearing a scarf, turban or hat if you feel sensitive about your loss of hair. This will help keep your head warm as well.

Consider buying a wig or toupée. You may want to select it before your hair falls out so that it will be easier to match to your own hair colour and style.

Protect your scalp when you are outside. A wide-brimmed hat or scarf can help. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 with good UVA protection on your scalp when you are outside.

By: → Jerry H. Hall