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Scalp Care Tips for Chemotherapy

This post has been verified by Ali Nowroozi

Scalp care during chemo is very important as it can help grow hair the best it can post-chemo. In this article, we’ll give you the must-know tips for scalp care during chemotherapy

Why does hair fall during chemo treatment?

A lot of the chemo treatment medication attacks fast-growing cells. Cancer cells, skin cells, and hair cells are all included in this category. The medication can’t differentiate between these, so in the process, skin and hair cells are also targeted by the chemo meds. Since the chemo drugs attack fast-growing cells your hair cells get caught in the crossfire. 


Scalp Care Tips During Chemotherapy

#1 Don’t shave your hair down to your skin – Get a buzzcut instead
First things first, before you start your chemo journey you need to shorten your hair the right way. This is because when chemo causes the hair to fall, it falls out with the follicle. If you shave your hair to the skin, the follicle can remain in your scalp causing ingrown hairs. This can cause a lot of discomfort and in order to avoid this, you should get a buzzcut instead.
#2 Wash and condition your scalp every 2-4 days during chemo
MSKCC (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre) recommends washing and conditioning your hair every 2-4 days.
#3 Use a gentle shampoo for your scalp
Chemotherapy makes the scalp more sensitive. As such rough chemicals found in most shampoo is not the best to use during chemotherapy. Baby shampoo is excellent for this, as they are made for sensitive scalps already. Make sure you get an alcohol-free shampoo with organic ingredients. Alternatively, there are chemo shampoo kits that contain all the features you seek.
Chemo patients should avoid the following ingredients in shampoo;
  • Methylparaben
  • Alcohol
  • Methylparaben
  • Fragrance
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Parabens
  • Phenoxyethanol

Synergistic with our theme of safety, you can also consider buying a breathable sleep skull cap. These are chemo sleep caps that are not only gentle on your scalp but will also protect from the cold the scalp is very sensitive to after chemotherapy.

shampoo for chemo scalp careThe more organic the shampoo is the better
#4 Remember to moisturize your scalp
Chemotherapy leaves your scalp dry and irritated. You can use either an ointment or cream. Headlube is another alternative that works pretty well when the scalp is dry.
#5 Protect your scalp from the sun 
Even the heat from the oven can be damaging to your scalp when you’re on chemo! You have to be extra careful during those sunny days. You’ll also notice the top of your scalp is very pale in comparison to the rest of your complexion. It has probably never seen sunlight so you have to be extra protective of your scalp during this time. Look for specialized protective hats for summer to protect your scalp from the damaging rays of the sun. Lola and Mirna are brilliant summer hats for chemo patients. They offer innovative UPF sun protection (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). The Skin Cancer Foundation highly recommends this feature.
lola brown chemo sun hat
mirna scalp protective chemo hat
#6 If you want to wear a wig make sure to wear wig caps
If you prefer wigs over hats, make sure you protect your scalp using a wig cap. Wig caps are soft to wear and will protect your head from irritation.
For questions related to hair and shaving before chemo make sure to read our FAQs about shaving your hair before chemo.

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