Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy Hair Loss
We understand how devastating losing your hair to chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments can be. Dealing with cancer can be draining and distressing physically, mentally and emotionally, and the aggressive treatments used to battle this disease can be even tougher on your confidence and comfort.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy commonly deliver unpleasant side effects, and as they work to kill off rapidly producing cancer cells, they also kill off other quick-generating cells, like those responsible for hair and nail growth. In other words, chemotherapy and radiation therapy drugs are poisonous to your hair, skin, and most “good” or healthy cells. Thus, the reason patients commonly lose their hair during treatment and find that their nails even become dry and brittle.
Fortunately, although the discomfort and pain of losing your hair can be difficult to endure, hair most always returns once chemotherapy is completed. It may take six to nine months before adequate hair growth is experienced, and the hair that returns may initially be quite different from the hair you once had, in both pigment and texture. It’s possible your hair will grow back darker, curlier, straighter or with a greater percentage of grey. Not to fret…. the pigment cells should return to normal in time, as will the texture of your hair.
What should you expect?
Hair usually begins falling out two to four weeks after you start treatment.
It could fall out very quickly in clumps or gradually. You’ll likely notice accumulations of loose hair on your pillow, in your hairbrush or comb, or in your sink or shower drain. Your scalp may feel tender.
Your hair loss will continue throughout your treatment and up to a few weeks afterward. Whether your hair thins or you become completely bald will depend on your treatment.
People with cancer report hair loss as a distressing side effect of treatment. Each time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, your changed appearance is a reminder of your illness and everything you’ve experienced since your diagnosis.
It may take several weeks after treatment for your hair to recover and begin growing again. When your hair starts to grow back, it will probably be slightly different from the hair you lost. But the difference is usually temporary. Your new hair might have a different texture or color. It might be curlier than it was before, or it could be gray until the cells that control the pigment in your hair begin functioning again. For additional information visit the Mayo Clinic website.
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How to Prepare?
- Is a hair piece or wig the best option?
- What is the difference in a wig and a cranial prosthesis?
- What is the difference between synthetic fiber and human hair?
- How important is my appearance during my treatment cycle?
- Is there anything I should do to keep my scalp in a healthy state?