One of the most devastating side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss, which can make an already difficult experience that much harder.
But knowing what to expect and how to manage your hair loss can help you cope. Below, we answer some of the most common questions about chemotherapy and hair loss.
Chemotherapy drugs are designed to attack all rapidly-growing cells in the body. That includes healthy cells as well as cancerous ones. Hair follicle cells, which typically divide every 23-72 hours, are some of the fastest growing cells in the body. Therefore, they’re also attacked and damaged by the chemotherapy drugs, which can lead to partial or total hair loss.
There are some chemotherapy drugs that only impact the hair on your head, but others may cause your eyelashes, eyebrows and hair on other parts of your body to fall out. Your physician will be able to go over specific treatments and their possible side effects.
You’ll most likely start to experience hair loss 2-4 weeks after starting chemotherapy. It may fall out gradually, or in clumps. Your scalp may begin to feel tender, and you’ll probably start seeing extra hair on your brush and pillow or in your shower drain.
Be as gentle as possible on your hair. Avoid coloring, bleaching or perming your hair, which can weaken the strands. It’s best to avoid heat styling with hair dryers, curling or flat irons and hot rollers, as these can also damage your hair. Shampoo and condition regularly and air dry your hair as much as possible.
Deciding to cut or shave your hair before chemotherapy is a very personal decision. Many people feel that having shorter hair helps them with the transition to complete . Shorter hair not only looks fuller, it can be easier to manage than longer hair. In addition, cutting hair before it falls out can help people feel like they’re more in control.
Your scalp may be sensitive as you’re undergoing treatment, so treat it kindly. It’ll be exposed to the sun and cold weather, which can cause irritation. Protect your head from the elements with sunscreen or a head covering.
Waiting for your hair to grow back takes patience. Depending on the type of treatment, short, thin vellus hairs (similar to peach fuzz) could start growing several weeks after the end of chemotherapy. Within a few months, you may have as much as an inch of hair growth. The average person’s hair grows only 1/4-1/2 inch per month due to the hair growth cycle. Your new hair will be fragile, so continue treating it as gently as possible.
Your hair may look the same as it was before, or it may be curlier, thicker or straighter. Sometimes the color changes slightly, too. But, your hair should eventually return to normal as the effects of chemotherapy gradually wear off.
Losing your hair during chemotherapy is never easy, but you have options. Our hair loss solutions can help boost or restore confidence in your appearance, letting you focus on your health instead of your hair loss. You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting one of our solutions to determine if it is right for your needs.
For more than 40 years, Hair Club has helped hundreds of thousands of men and women suffering from all types of hair loss. We offer a variety of proven solutions that are customized to fit your needs and lifestyle. Schedule your private, complimentary consultation with one of our hair loss experts today and learn about which solution is right for you.
For informational purposes only. The exact cause of hair loss can only be determined by a medical professional.