Loss of hair during chemotherapy in cancer patients is a very distressing ordeal. The loss of hair is one of the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. During the chemotherapy treatment, all cells besides cancer cells are affected. Stomach lining, the lining of the mouth and the follicles of the hair form one of the most rapidly multiplying cells just like cancer cells. For this reason, the mentioned cells are considered more sensitive to chemotherapy compared to other cells in the body. This is so because normal cells have a quick self repairing ability making the side effects of chemotherapy temporary. It is worth noting that not all chemotherapy will leads to loss of hair. Whether your hair is going to thin or fall out will depend on the drugs one is using and their dosages.
At times, loss of hair will be observed within the first three weeks when one is in the chemotherapy’s first cycle. In other times, hair loss will be experienced in the second cycle. In some patients, the loss of hair may be sudden while it may be slow in others. Some people lose all of their hair while others lose only some of it. It comes as a surprise to some people that hair can be lost from any part of the body including the eyebrows, the eyelashes and the pubic hair.
After one is through with the chemotherapy treatment, the hair will begin to grow again normally. However, the hair may only start growing between three and six months after completing therapy. In other instances, to a patient’s surprise, the hair may begin growing when one is still undertaking therapy. It is important to note that your new hair might look different. It may feel different in texture, have a slight difference in color or even have a different looking curl than the one you had previously.
A lot of people, especially, wish something could be done to prevent or even reduce hair loss during treatment of cancer. Women are more distressed by hair loss than men since it affects their beauty the most. Efforts have been made over the years to reduce loss of hair during therapy where ice caps or tight bands are used. However, in as much as these measures work to reduce loss of hair, there is concern that they do come in the way of treatment and are therefore discouraged. This concern is only but theoretical and not all medical experts subscribe to it.
Hair loss in women during chemotherapy is very devastating. However, there are several things a woman can do to maintain a good look despite their loss of hair. Below are some of those things that will help you overcome, to some extent, the loss of your hair during the period of your chemotherapy.
Different drugs will have different effects on your hair. Some of the drugs will cause your hair to thin gradually while others will cause it to fall in lumps. Ask your doctor for alternative drugs, if there are any at all, that will have less effect on your hair. Also, ask the doctor to explain to you what you are likely to experience during the period of chemotherapy. This will help you not to be scared by hair loss.
Give your hair a break
Accept that you are facing a new condition in your life. The new condition will not last your lifetime but it is only temporary. To slow down the loss of your hair, you must accept to avoid shampoos made of alcohol, strong fragrance, or salicylic acid. Do not perm, color or straighten your hair using chemicals. Stay away from straightening irons, irons used for curling your hair and even rollers. Try using soft and bristle hairbrushes. Air-dry your hair other than using a blow dryer. All these will ensure minimum interference with your hair and therefore reduce hair breakages and the eventual loss of your hair.
Cut your hair short. Since short hair will not sleep flat against your head, the short upright hair will make your head appear to have hair that is thicker and even fuller. The short hair will be easily manageable when one has wigs. When shaving your head, do not use plastic razors. These can cut and injure your scalp. Instead, go to a barbershop or use an electric shaver.
Protect your skin
As one loses hair, the scalp grows tender. At the same time, the scalp will begin to itch. Other people will also have a tingling sensation on their scalp. To ease the discomfort that comes with these feelings, use moisturizing shampoos and conditioners. You can also massage your scalp using a gentle lotion.
When sleeping, wear a soft cap. This collects loose hair that falls from your head. Avoid braids and ponytails. Use silk pillowcases when sleeping since silk will not rough up your head.
Cover yourself well
Wear a scarf or a hat when going out to protect you from cold. If it is sunny, apply sunscreen on your scalp to prevent sunburns.
Wear a wig or a hairpiece
If you have a made a decision to wear a wig or a hairpiece, shop as you commence your therapy. This will help you choose one that matches your hair’s natural color and texture. More so, you will able to choose one that is your style.
Accessorize to look beautiful
Get yourself some pretty earrings. A colorful scarf will be a good addition too. If you love makeup, use eyebrow pencils. You can also wear fake eyelashes to make you feel and look good.
Make enquiries into scalp cooling
Scalp cooling involves wearing a tight cap that contains a cold gel. In some people, this makes the loss of hair to reduce. However, the cold gel makes the blood vessels beneath the scalp constrict. This in turn limits blood flow to hair follicles which consequently limits the supply of medicine to these follicles.
Discuss how you feel
When faced with loss of hair during treatment, anxiety apprehends someone and depression creeps in. A woman tends to have a very hard time with this reality. It is therefore advisable to consider joining a support group that has people who are experiencing the same ordeal as you. When you share your experiences and get advice, you will appreciate whatever is happening to you.
Always remember that loss of hair during chemotherapy is not a permanent condition. Once your treatment is over or even before it is over, your hair will begin to grow. Be patient with yourself and you will be free of depression that comes with such changes in your body looks. Feel good about yourself because feeling beautiful s is the first step toward looking beautiful.