Chemo Hair Loss: Why Does Chemotherapy Make You Lose Your Hair

Chemo hair loss is a distressing side effect. Chemotherapy affects all the cells in the body, not just the cancerous ones. The stomach, hair follicles and mouth lining are sensitive to chemotherapy because they divide rapidly like cancer cells.

Chemotherapy Hair Loss Prevention

Radiation therapy only affects the hair on the part of the body exposed to the radiation, so it will not cause hair loss. Some types of cancer are unresponsive or unsuitable for radiation therapy and chemotherapy becomes crucial. Chemotherapy is likely to cause some degree of hair thinning or hair loss and while it is important to be prepared for this, it is always shocking and upsetting when the hair does start to fall out.

The dosages and drugs used during chemotherapy affect the rate of hair loss. Some people lose all their hair, some lose some of their hair and others might keep all their hair. Some types of chemotherapy drugs might cause you to lose your eyebrows, eyelashes and pubic hair too. Chemo hair loss can be either slow or sudden.

Chemo Hair Loss: Why Does Chemotherapy Make You Lose Your Hair

There is no prevention for hair loss in chemotherapy. Ice caps and tight bands have been experimented with in the past, in order to reduce the blood flow to the follicles but these techniques did not work at all. Obviously the most important thing is to treat the cancer. The hair will grow back.

Hair Care During Chemotherapy

So, how do you manage chemo hair loss? It is impossible to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy so try to focus on keeping your head warm with scarves or caps. This is also important when you go outside since a scarf, turban or hat will prevent sunburn or heat loss. Your head can burn easily because your scalp will never have been exposed to the sun before.

You might want to cut your hair short if it has begun to fall out. Losing short hair might be less distressing than long hairs. If you want to get a wig, it is best to do this before the chemotherapy so the stylist can create a good match. A lot of insurance companies are happy to pay for wigs if they are the result of chemotherapy treatments.

Do not get a perm or color your hair during chemotherapy. Chemo can affect hair follicles and the outcome of the treatment might not be what you wanted. Not all the hairs might color or not all the hairs might curl. Wait until after the chemotherapy if you want to get a hair treatment.

Hair Regrowth after Chemotherapy

Chemo Hair Loss: Why Does Chemotherapy Make You Lose Your Hair

Use a gentle shampoo or a baby shampoo and a mild conditioner every three to five days to keep your hair looking healthy. Rinse the hair well and pat it dry. Avoid blow dryers.

Learn: 8 foods that help hair grow faster and stronger

Remember that in nearly all cases of chemo hair loss, the hair will grow back normally after the course of chemotherapy. It might however take up to six months to start growing back. The regrowth might be a different texture or color or it might be curlier or straighter than your hair was before but this is quite common.

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