When a person gets diagnosed with cancer, hair loss is one of their biggest fears, and rightly so. Losing your hair often shows that you are undergoing treatment for cancer.
Chemotherapy is one of the treatments that cause hair loss, and cancer patients who don’t want to go bald are continually looking for ways to prevent it. Thankfully, advancements in science and technology have given you one less thing to worry about by offering new ways of keeping your hair while undergoing chemo.
Why You Lose Hair During Chemotherapy
Most chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications designed to attack cancer cells rapidly. However, as a side effect, it affects other cells in the body, including those in hair roots. It touches hairs all over the body, and not just the one on the head.
Depending on the dosage, some drugs may cause severe hair loss, while others might result in mere thinning of the hair. Most hair loss is temporary and will likely grow back months after the treatment ends, although you might get a different texture or shade.
When Does Your Hair Start Falling Out?
Hair loss starts at different times for different people. For some, it might begin two weeks after commencing chemo treatments, while for others, it takes up to a month. When it starts, it could fall in clumps or gradually.
You might also see your hair on your pillow, and whether or not you brush your hair, it falls off effortlessly. Another thing you will experience when you lose hair is a tender scalp, and both will continue for as long as the chemo treatment lasts.
Can You Prevent Hair Loss During Chemotherapy?
The one thing you should keep in mind is that there’s no aggressive cancer treatment with a guarantee that you won’t lose your hair. But thankfully, there are some treatments that can help prevent hair loss while undergoing chemotherapy. They are:
1.) To help prevent hair loss during chemo, you can use a laser cap for hair loss to help keep your hair strong and healthy throughout treatment. These caps are FDA-cleared and designed for men and women struggling with hair loss. Make sure to consult your doctor before using.
2.) During chemo, you can wear a closely fitted scalp cooling cap containing chilled liquid. It reduces blood flow to the scalp and keeps the chemotherapy drugs from significantly affecting your hair.
Studies conducted on scalp cooling caps and other forms of hypothermic treatments uncovered that they work in several people who tried them. Note that there’s a small risk of having the cancer return to your scalp, as the cap prevents it from receiving the same dose of chemo drugs as the other parts of your body.
During, and After Chemo
Knowing how to manage your hair during your chemo journey is another essential way to prevent losing it. Before beginning Chemo, do the following:
- Treat Your Hair Gently: If you have a cancer diagnosis and chemo is the treatment plan recommended by your doctor, then it’s time to do away with coloring, bleaching, and perming your hair. Instead, air dry your hair as often as possible and keep away from heating devices like curlers and hot rollers.
- Consider Cutting Your Hair: This might sound drastic, mostly if you spent years and resources growing and keeping your hair healthy. But in the long run, it would give your hair a fuller look.
- Use Soft and Mild Hair Products: Once you’ve commenced your chemo treatments, use soft and mild hair products. Use a soft brush, wash your hair as often as possible, and continue to treat it gently.
- Protect Your Scalp: As mentioned earlier, your scalp will be tender and sensitive during your treatment, so protect it always. Use sunscreen when going out in the sun and a headcover when it’s cold.
- Give Your Scalp Time to Heal: Hair growth is a process, and will not happen overnight, so give your scalp time to heal. Avoid using harsh products in a bid to see fast results.
- Get a Wig: While waiting for your hair to grow, you can get a wig or any other hair cover you fancy. It would also serve as protection for your scalp and give it time to heal.
Hair loss is a common side effect for chemotherapy treatment but can be mitigated and prevented. Whatever you decide is up to you, but ensure you explore all your options and make the choice you are most comfortable with.