Not all the drugs in chemotherapy will make you lose your hair. Your Oncologist will let you know which type of drugs will be used to treat your cancer and in what stage of treatment your hair will start falling out.
Losing your hair can be very traumatizing. Many people can just not see themselves without their hair, in fact sometimes part of your identity is reflected in your hair. Trying to deny it isn’t going to help and can in fact even impact you more negatively if you do start losing it in your chemotherapy treatments. If your oncologist has indicated that you will be experiencing some hair loss then start preparing yourself ahead of time. Do what makes you feel the most comfortable and take whatever steps you need to prepare yourself. You’re already dealing with enough and the more you can make things easier on yourself the better. Just remember, it is temporary and it’s helping you battle your disease.
Here’s some tips for when the time comes:
- Your head scalp will be sensitive, always protect it with a scarf, hat or a wig. Be careful with the sun. Always try to walk in the shade.
- If your skin becomes dry and itchy, use a cream.
- Use a soft shampoo to wash your scalp but choose one without chemicals in it, try using an organic shampoo. This is not because you don’t have hair but using a regular soap can dry your skin.
- Use sunscreen.
- You can wear a scarf, hat or wig. For the wig, make sure you get a “prescription” from your doctor for insurance company purposes. Many health insurers cover the cost of wigs (called a “hair prosthesis” in insurance language). So double check with your insurance company first if they cover the cost of the wig. Anything that can save you money will help.
If you are suffering from Alopecia see that website: http://www.belgraviacentre.com
Hair loss on Women
Hair loss is the most distressing and feared side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Hair is one of the most important features when it comes to beauty. Fashion tells us that, we can not be pretty without hair, that it defines our personality. But for the last 20 years we have seen a lot of women shaving their heads voluntarily and they look fantastic! Look at Bald Shilpa, Shetty Shilpa, Demi Moore, Angelina Jolie, Georgia-Van-Cuylenbara, Natalie-Portman and many more. They have shown us we can look beautiful without hair.
The best way to start, especially if you have always had long hair is getting a short haircut. It’s a big step but necessary; because long hair, by weight will fall out sooner and be messy and harder to brush than short hair. When your hair doesn’t stop falling take an electric razor and shave the rest or go to a hair salon.
Your hair will be falling out everywhere. It can fall from your scalp by strands or by clumps. It’s amazing how much hair we have. Anticipating the hair loss can be a stress and to make a deliberate choice to cut it will make you in control of it. People will see start seeing you with your short hair so when the time comes to shave it the impact will be less on them and on you. You will have eliminated the trauma of watching your hair fall out.
The wig is the best option for women who feel less comfortable going bald but it can be uncomfortable, hot and itchy and you don’t want to wear a wig all day. You have a choice of wigs: from human hair or synthetic; short or long; custom- or machine-made; and price (which can range from $40 to over $4,000). Some cancer associations or societies give out wigs for the period of time that you need it and after you don’t need it anymore you just make sure you wash the wig and bring it back for someone else. (see how to wash it)
I kept my hair after cutting it and glued the strands on double sided sticky tape and put that on a velcro strip and then added the velcro to all my hats and scarves. This way I gave the illusion that I had hair and felt happier that at least it was my own hair on the velcro strips. Some stores carry hair with velcro already made.
I loved to also wear scarves and hats. They are light and the air can circulate through easier so they are not as hot to wear and are extremely comfortable. There are even special scarves and hats that have been adapted and made especially for people with no hair. They can stay on your head without moving due to an extra ring inside and have a special fabric for comfort with fun colors and patterns. The best part is they are not that expensive.
Hair Loss on Men
I have noticed that some men can be anxious too with the prospect of hair loss. We are not that much different in experiencing the same emotions during cancer. Men take just as much pride in how they look and their men’s magazine influence the way they look just like ours do. Men are just as likely to be anxious and embarrassed when they lose their hair, especially on their chests, eyebrows and eyelashes.
So men can do the same things as the women. Cut your hair short or buzz cut it if it’s already short and then shave it when you are ready. Use a good product to take care of your scalp. And keep in mind men, the shaved head look has also become a sign of virility, toughness and sexiness. Just take a look at some of the most popular actors and sportsmen below.
If you really don’t like the bald look though there are some good quality men’s wigs out there and there is always the trusty hat. Just remember it will grow back.
Hair loss on Kids
For very young kids that lose their hair its not that traumatic. They are so young and innocent that sometimes they are more worried about when they are able to play outside and be with their friends than losing their hair. But for older children it can be a traumatic experience, more traumatic sometimes than for an adult. So it’s is important that the parents make the experience as smooth as possible. Choose scarves and hats with beautiful colors and funny patterns or their favourite t.v, movie or book characters. Let them start wearing it before they lose their hair so they can get used wearing them. Compliment them on how they look good.
For teenagers, this can be devastating, they are at the age when looks and how they look to the opposite sex are so very important to them. Communication with your teen is crucial during this period. Be open and honest with what is exactly going on with their body during treatment and talk to them about which options they want to go with in their hair loss experience. Including them in this process will give them a sense of control and empowerment and make the whole hair loss issue as easy as possible.
If your child has decided that they would prefer a wig, take a picture of their hair style and keep some of the hair to match the color of the wig. It will be easier to choose a wig and with the picture, go to a hair stylist where they will be able to give the wig the same hair style and colour that your child had before.
It can be helpful to talk with other children who have been through the same experience of cancer treatment and hair loss. Sometimes when your child is able to see another child in the same situation, it will help them to understand what’s going on and they won’t feel alone in the journey.
This can also help you in dealing with everything that is going on with your child. Talk to your hospital social worker to find children or young adults with cancer to share their experiences.
Hair loss in other body parts.
With some drugs you might lose not only your hair but your eyebrows, lashes, all your other body hair including the pubic hair.
When the eyebrows start to fall out, you can redraw them with a pencil or just fill in a little bit with short strokes, just where the hairs are missing.
As for sparse eyelashes, use individual or full fake eyelashes and mascara.
Most people just opt to go without during treatment and always keep in mind they will grow back.
How to Coax the Regrowth
It can take a few weeks for your hair to start growing again after your treatment ends. It can vary from person to person and will be affected by your type of treatment. Your hair can come back with a different texture, may be curlier and even a different color than before.
Doctors recommend to have four haircuts before you let your hair have the full beauty treatment. This way the hair will be stronger, more thick and ready for hair coloring. Six months to a year later, your hair will have returned to its normal texture. Be patient.
Here are some more useful tips.
- Ask your doctor about using Minoxidil, a remedy for regrowth sold over the counter.
- Products for thinning hair and hair loss such as Nioxin Cleanser.
- Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner
- Moisturizing your scalp might help your skin feel more comfortable and less itchy.
- Massage your scalp with your fingers for the blood flow
It could happen that during the months of chemotherapy, your hair will start growing back a little. This is normal, it’s a natural part of the process.
With radiation, your hair will probably fall out from the area that is being treated, wherever the treatment is concentrated on. Sometimes the hair may not grow back. It is important to talk with your health care team for more information and what is the most likely scenario in your case and what they can refer to you.
Hair loss usually begins several days after the first or second chemotherapy treatment, this varies from individual to individual and with the type of treatment you will get. Your hair may begin thinning gradually before starting to fall out faster and in larger quantities or by clumps.
When you know in advance that your hair loss is expected with cancer treatment, you can plan ahead and start planning what you will need.
You should not plan to wear wigs right away. Have a look at all the options you can have and if it’s summer time you may prefer something light and breathable that will be more comfortable on your head and that looks good too.
Wigs need to be the right size for your head to be comfortable. Keep in mind that wigs usually need some styling, trimming and other adjustments by hair care professionals.
Synthetic wigs can be washed and styled at home or taken to your hairstylist or wig shop. Human hair is more difficult to handle, so it’s best left to the professionals.
Synthetic hair keeps it shape and requires less care than human hair and is less expensive as well. Both kinds of hair come in a variety of colors and textures and you should be able to match your natural hair.
- Brush wig starting at ends and work up to the scalp with a wire wig brush.
- Submerge wig in a bowl or sink of cool water and baby shampoo or soap for wigs. Gently swish.
- Soak for five minutes.
- Rinse in cool water.
- If desired, condition hair with a product for wigs or a conditioner with lanolin.
- Rinse again in cool water.
- Gently squeeze out water — do not twist.
- Blot dry with a towel.
- Place wig on a tall, slender object like a hair spray can so air can circulate through the wig.
- Allow to air-dry completely. Never brush a wet wig. (Only blow-dry if the manufacturer recommends it.)
- Gently brush from ends to scalp with wig brush.
Most synthetic wigs have the style molded into the hair, so simply control and emphasize the set with hot rollers set on medium or low. (Never use curling irons or hair dryers on synthetic wigs.) From http://www.belgraviacentre.com
Some organizations that can help supply wigs at low or no cost. Talk to your cancer association or society in your area.
Whatever you decide to wear, this is your choice. Whatever makes you most comfortable is the right decision for you.