The thought of starting chemotherapy is understandably very daunting for anyone. The chemo, of course, comes with many side effects, including fatigue and feeling sick. But there is one side-effect that can be especially hard in coming to terms with. That is hair loss during chemotherapy treatment. This can occur all over the body. It includes the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, underarm hair and pubic region. Generally, losing scalp hair happens first and is the most noticeable.
Losing hair brings with it a significant change that affects our looks. As a result, this can affect how we feel. So, it is a good idea to prepare emotionally for this physical change. In turn, this can ease stress.
How do I prepare?
In fact, there are various methods on how to deal with thinning hair during chemo. So, we have compiled a guide with the different options available to you. It’s important to stress that not everyone has the same reaction to chemotherapy. For example, some patients lose clumps while others only lose strands of hair. Remember that everyone is different. Thus, there is no need to rush to make any rash decisions. You can wait and see how you react to the treatment and then go from there. A good idea is to consult your doctor on the likelihood of it falling out, as not all chemo results in hair loss.
Shaving your hair
The first option that some cancer patients take is to shave their hair. Why? Because shaving can feel empowering and is a way of preempting chemo hair loss. It can give you a feeling of control over your treatment. But of course, it can also feel very emotional parting with your locks. So, we recommend doing it with your family or friends around you. That way, their presence can distract and take the pressure away. Also, shaving your hair is beneficial in reducing scalp itchiness and irritation. If you decide to take the plunge, consider donating your hair to a charity to be made into a wig.
Cutting your hair
Another option is to cut your hair short. That way, you have time to get used to your new look before the chemotherapy hair loss starts.
See how your hair reacts to the treatment
Another alternative is to avoid cutting or shaving it. In this way, you can see how your hair reacts to the chemo. If you choose to go down this route, there are various steps you should take:
Hair loss is known to be particularly noticeable in the shower. So, go easy on the amount you wash your hair. Attempt to wash it the least amount possible and be super gentle. Use cool water. Avoid using any chemicals or heat. That means no dying, blow-drying and straightening. Let your hair be in its natural state and switch to air drying.
Wear a wig
Wearing wigs can be a way to boost your self-esteem. They offer the opportunity to feel normal. You can shop for wigs by yourself. Alternatively, go to a specialist wig stylist. Choose from human or synthetic hair wigs. For thinning hair, consider using a hairpiece instead of a full hair wig.
Headwear is a fabulous alternative to wigs. Head covering are easy to maintain and don’t irritate the scalp. Wear stylish chemo headscarves https://www.masumiheadwear.com/product-category/chemo-head-scarves-en/ and chemo hats https://www.masumiheadwear.com/product-category/chemo-hats/. Choose bamboo chemo hats https://www.masumiheadwear.com/product-category/bamboo-chemo-hats/ for comfort, breathability and their antiperspirant qualities.
In fact, there is headwear to suit all your needs! For example, wear soft chemo beanies https://www.masumiheadwear.com/product-category/soft-chemo-beanies/ to keep warm. Use exercise hats for chemo patients whilst doing gentle exercises such as walking. https://www.masumiheadwear.com/product-category/exercise-hats-for-chemo-patients/ There are even chemo hats for women with small heads! https://www.masumiheadwear.com/product-category/chemo-hats-for-small-heads/
A suggestion is to start wearing headwear before hair loss is noticeable. In turn, this can make a smoother transition to using headwear every day.
Join a community
Are you feeling alone? It’s normal to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and at a loss of control. In fact, there are plenty of communities online that can help. Just by checking out different social networks and sites, you will realize that you are not alone.
Fortunately, there are plenty of discussion boards. There you can connect with others around the world also going through chemo. It allows you to offer support, insight, exchange information and opinions. You can receive practical, emotional and social support.
Natural ways to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy
Vitamin C is vital in promoting hair growth. So, it’s advisable to up your intake of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C. Check out our previous article. It goes through the many benefits of vitamin C on the hair and skin. https://www.masumiheadwear.com/blog/2021/09/10/the-benefits-of-vitamin-c-on-the-hair-and-skin/
Also, ask your doctor about using a scalp cooling hat. They constrict the blood vessels. Thus, it can avoid the chemo reaching hair follicles. As a result, this can reduce chemo hair loss.
Wearing a sleeping cap is beneficial no matter which route you decide to go down. We highly recommend it. Why? Because sleeping caps provide warmth, protection and also avoid scalp irritation. Using a sleeping cap is a method of keeping hair loss to a minimum during the night. It reduces friction with the pillow. In fact, sleeping caps provide you with a better night’s sleep. So, you will wake up feeling well-rested and rejuvenated.
Why does chemotherapy cause hair loss?
Chemo generally causes hair loss because it targets rapidly dividing cells. As well as affecting cancerous cells, it also targets healthy cells. That is how it affects hair follicles. Hair can start to fall out as early as 2 weeks after starting chemo.
- Remind yourself that hair loss is temporary
- It is normal to feel anxious about hair loss
- It’s okay to feel upset and not recognize yourself in the mirror
- Also, exposed skin is more prone to burn. So, be sure to apply sunscreen on your scalp
- You can totally switch up your look on a daily basis, e.g. alternate between wigs, headwear etc.
If you found this helpful, check out our article on shaving hair before chemo!