Suffering from cancer is stressful. You’re not sure whether you’ll make it through and, to boot, there’s invasive chemotherapy treatment to contend with.
Losing your hair during chemotherapy only makes things worse. Your luscious locks wither away due to the intense nature of the drugs involved.
The cytostatic drugs used in chemotherapy are incredibly potent as they aim to eliminate all cancer cells present in your body rapidly. However, they also have the unfortunate side effect of killing healthy cells, such as those found in our hair follicles. That’s part of the reason why chemotherapy results in hair loss.
How to Prevent Hair Loss During Chemo
Once your chemotherapy starts, you can expect hair loss within a period of two to four weeks.
Initially, you might notice gradual thinning of your hair. When you wake up in the morning, your pillow might have clumps of hair on it. It’ll be a similar story after you shower — the drain might accumulate hair.
This process accelerates as chemotherapy progresses. There’s a high likelihood that you’ll experience complete baldness or, at the very least, a substantial thinning of your hair.
Not all chemotherapy results in hair loss, so it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor first. However, it’s almost impossible to reverse hair loss once it’s started due to the strong nature of drugs used in treatment.
Further Reading on Hair Replacement
The positive news, however, is that hair loss due to chemotherapy isn’t permanent. Your hair will start to grow back once treatment is over. It might be slightly different in terms of texture and color, but it won’t wither away completely.
Nonetheless, there are still a few ways you can manage chemo hair loss prevention.
1. Scalp cooling caps
Chemotherapy patients wear scalp cooling caps during their treatment as they limit blood flow to the scalp area. That reduces the spread of chemotherapy drugs to your hair follicles.
According to a review published in the International Journal of Cancer, scalp cooling caps can reduce the risk of hair loss in people undergoing chemotherapy. However, this isn’t guaranteed and also has potential side effects such as an increased risk of migraines.
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved hair loss drug. It’s possible to apply this on your scalp before and during chemotherapy as it speeds up hair regrowth.
Chemo and Hair Loss Tips
While the chances of eliminating hair loss during chemotherapy aren’t very high, there are a few ways you can manage the process.
1. Don’t experiment too much
You want your hair to be healthy and in optimum condition right before chemotherapy starts so that recovery is quick, too. This means avoid things like heavy bleaching, extensive colors, or hair perms as it weakens the hair follicles.
Try to stay away from curling irons and other heating devices as these impact your hair negatively and put your hair follicles under stress.
2. Cut your hair
If you start chemotherapy treatment with a full head of hair, then all subsequent hair loss is far more noticeable than if you had short hair to begin with.
Shorter hair also means it’s easier (and quicker) to grow back once the chemotherapy is over.
3. Use gentle hair strategies
It’s crucial that you go easy on your hair during your chemotherapy treatment, too. This means opting to use a softer brush as well as a mild shampoo with a lower pH factor. Don’t wash your hair daily, rather only a few times a week.
4. Consider wigs
It’s okay to feel crestfallen at the loss of your hair. After all, you’re already under severe stress due to chemotherapy, and the last thing you need is a blow to your self-esteem.
A handy method to tackle this problem is to wear a short-term hairpiece, such as a wig. This gives you renewed confidence to go about your daily activities and prevents awkward questions about your appearance. You don’t have to share details about your cancer recovery treatment if you don’t want to, and a wig will cover up the fact that you’re losing your hair.
Chemotherapy and the resulting hair loss is difficult to deal with. But it’s vital that you take a patient, calm view of the situation as it’s only temporary. Your hair will grow back once chemotherapy is over; just give it the time it needs.
3rd Dimension Studios helps people deal with a sudden loss of hair through a number of non-surgical hair replacement systems. Contact us for a free evaluation to put you on the path for renewed confidence and optimism.