According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 650,000 cancer patients receive chemotherapy annually in the United States. If you have received a cancer diagnosis and are receiving chemotherapy you may experience hair loss due to its’ medicinal strength and power.
Why It Occurs
Chemotherapy is used to kill cancer cells but it can’t tell the difference between good and bad cells. Normal cells such as those for hair follicles can be destroyed resulting in hair loss. Eventually your normal cells will repair the damage once your chemotherapy treatment is complete.
When It Occurs
You will start to experience hair loss two to four weeks after treatment has started. It may fall out in clumps or gradually and you will notice loose hair after combing or showering. Your hair loss will continue until after two weeks of treatment.
- Before starting treatment you may want to consider the following:
- Avoid coloring, perms and bleaching.
- Stay away from curling irons and hot rollers.
- Keep hair short as it tends to look fuller.
- Consider purchasing head scarfs, wigs or a hair piece. A prescription for a wig may be covered by your insurance company.
- While receiving chemotherapy, gentle treatment of your hair will help when it starts to grow back:
- Always use a soft brush.
- Wash hair infrequently as possible and use a gentle shampoo.
- Protect your head with sunscreen and hats as the cold and sunshine will irritate your skin.
- Consider shaving your head to avoid the embarrassment of shedding hair in public.
- Use a gentle lotion to massage into your hair.
- As your hair starts to grow in, it’s important to continue being gentle with your new growth:
- Continue to avoid coloring, bleaching and perms.
- Stay away from styling products, curling irons and hair dryers.
- Practice patience. Your hair will grow back but it does take time!
Preventing Hair Loss
Some of these methods have been successful while others not so much. How successful they are may depend on the type of chemotherapy you are receiving. Always consult with your physician before considering any of these:
Scalp Cooling: Ice packs or an ice cap can be applied to your scalp while you are undergoing treatment. The coldness contracts your blood vessels so the drugs won’t reach the cells as rapidly.
Compression headbands: Clinical trials are in progress and are more effective with radiation therapy.
As always, inform yourself of the side effects of chemotherapy and always consult with your physician. Cancer treatments won’t affect your hair in the same way so stay educated and you will be much more prepared!
New-U provides custom made 100% natural European and human hair wigs for individuals experiencing chemotherapy and other types of Medical Hair Loss. To schedule a free consultation contact New-U Hair Replacement Specialists today!