Managing Hair Loss After Chemo
Most of us will experience hair loss to some degree in our lifetime, but for patients who undergo chemotherapy, it’s very much a concern.
Different treatments cause different amounts and types of hair loss or alopecia.
Hair usually grows back after treatment, but some people might experience permanent thinning or hair loss.
Either way, it’s traumatic. Most people feel that their hair is a major part of their identity and losing it can leave you feeling exposed and self-conscious. You might feel it screams “I’m a cancer patient” to everyone.
There’s good news, though. There are steps you can take to prevent and cure treatment-related hair loss and promote regrowth. It will help make your chemo-related hair loss less stressful and boost your confidence.
Scalp and Hair Care 101
First, let’s talk about tips to look after your scalp and hair during your treatment.
- Use a smooth, soft pillowcase.
- Choose a fragrance-free, gentle shampoo and avoid washing your hair daily. Always be gentle with your scalp when you wash your hair and if you’re prone to tangling, use gentle conditioners and detangler sprays.
- Always use sun protection on your scalp and cover up with a scarf or hat when you go outside.
- Avoid pulling your hair. Pat it dry after washing and gently style it with a wide-toothed comb or soft brush.
- Stay away from hair straighteners, chemical curling and high-heat styling. You’ll also want to avoid semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes.
- Talk to your health care team before you use any products on your scalp and hair that claim to help with hair growth.
Many people experience hair loss at some point in their life. Even horses suffer from alopecia, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But us humans can do something to disguise hair loss.
Hairpieces and Wigs
Once you start your chemotherapy, though, you may notice significant hair loss. During therapy and as your hair grows back, you might want to consider a hairpiece or wig.
It’s a good idea to do your shopping before you begin your treatment so that you can match the natural style, texture and colour of your hair.
Many health insurers cover a portion of the cost if you have a prescription from your doctor for a hair prosthesis. Some places even allow you to rent a wig.
Thanks to advancements, you can achieve natural-looking results even after your cancer treatment with the help of a hair transplant. It’s nothing like it used to be back in the 1970s and 1980s when hair plugs were inserted in thinning areas and an unnatural doll-like mop or hair sprouted.
Improvements in creating a hairline and placing hairs in thinning areas can create a natural-looking, healthy head of hair in just a few weeks.
If your chemotherapy has resulted in alopecia patches, and you haven’t experienced total hair loss, a hair transplant could be the solution. It’s also a good solution when your hair is too weak, and your medical team suspects that new hair growth is almost impossible.
The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but our hair is our identifying mane, and having options for hair regrowth after chemotherapy may just provide a boost in positivity and confidence.