Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Hair loss and hair care
Hair is important to everyone's appearance and self-image, so losing your hair can be a distressing experience. Some patients feel anxious when they find out their treatment will affect their hair. If you feel worried, you may find that talking to the staff caring for you helps. They will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Your hair will nearly always grow back once you have finished your treatment. An exception to this is certain types of radiotherapy which may result in permanent hair loss in the area treated.
Find out more about hair loss during cancer treatment.
If you do not lose your hair, be sure to take care of it and treat it as gently as possible. Chemotherapy in particular may cause your hair to become dry and brittle.
Find out more about hair care during cancer treatme
How can I care for my scalp and hair during chemotherapy?
- Use a mild shampoo.
- Use a soft hair brush.
- Use low heat when drying your hair.
- Have your hair cut short. A shorter style will make your hair look thicker and fuller. It also will make hair loss easier to manage if it occurs.
- Use a sun screen, sun block, hat, or scarf to protect your scalp from the sun if you lose hair on your head.
- Avoid brush rollers to set your hair.
- Avoid dying, perming, or relaxing your hair.
Some people who lose all or most of their hair choose to wear turbans, scarves, caps, wigs, or hair pieces. Others leave their head uncovered. Still others switch back and forth, depending on whether they are in public or at home with friends and family members. There are no "right" or "wrong" choices; do whatever feels comfortable for you.
If you choose to cover your head:
- Get your wig or hairpiece before you lose a lot of hair. That way, you can match your current hair style and color. You may be able to buy a wig or hairpiece at a specialty shop just for cancer patients. Someone may even come to your home to help you. You also can buy a wig or hair piece through a catalog or by phone.
- You may also consider borrowing a wig or hairpiece, rather than buying one. Check with the nurse or social work department at your hospital about resources for free wigs in your community.
- Take your wig to your hairdresser or the shop where it was purchased for styling and cutting to frame your face.
- Some health insurance policies cover the cost of a hairpiece needed because of cancer treatment. It is also a tax-deductible expense. Be sure to check your policy and ask your doctor for a "prescription."
For more information about cancer therapy side effects, and coping with them, please read the "Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment, Coping with Side Effects" article