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Cancer Treatment and Hair Loss | Steps to Minimise Hair Loss


Why does hair loss occur? Around one-third of women in the world ask this question at some time in their lives. According to the NHS article, losing fifty to hundred hair strands a day is a routine. Hair loss isn’t an immediate concern of getting worried. Still, sometimes it can be a sign of medical conditions. Hence, it is a must to see your primary care provider, determine the cause and appropriate treatment. Some type of hair loss is permanent like Alopecia, while a different kind of hair loss may be temporary due to the side effects of cancer treatment.

 

Hair loss due to Cancer Treatment

 

Chemotherapy treatment for cancer can cause hair loss all over your body and not just on your scalp. According to Cancer Research, (Cancerresearchuk.org, 2019), different doses can cause hair thinning to complete baldness. Hair loss is temporary and might take a few weeks to grow back after the treatment. Doctors often offer hair loss treatments like scalp cooling treatment, which helps in reducing the blood flow in your scalp and decreases the impact of drugs reaching the hair follicles on your head. But, this treatment is very limited to specific chemotherapy treatment depending on the type of cancer and chemo dosage, and cannot be a solution in every case.

 

Not all chemotherapy causes hair loss

 

The effects of chemotherapy differs depending on the type. Consult this with your doctor to find out what to expect from chemotherapy (Healthline, 2018).

 

About permanent hair loss

 

Alopecia is a familiar term for hair loss that can appear at any age. As stated in an article posted on the Alopecia UK website (Alopecia UK, 2019), Alopecia has five categories. Areata, Androgenetic, Telogen and Anagen Effluvium, Scarring, and Traction Alopecia. This illness is caused due to genetic hereditary or by inflammation, i.e. the immune system of the body which generally handles protecting the body from infection may instead attack the growing hair cells of the body. It’s highly recommended to consult your GP or dermatologist for professional advice. On a personal level, to cope with Alopecia, the research from the British skin foundation suggest that, meeting with other people suffering from similar illness helps to understand and adjust to your condition. Thus, joining support groups and organizations will help you stay positive.

 

 Other causes of hair loss

 

 Lifestyle

 

In this fast-moving world, it has become challenging to maintain a proper lifestyle. NHS article, (NHS.uk, 2019) on Hair Loss stated that hair loss could be one of the side effects of certain drugs used for treatments for arthritis, depression, heart problems, and high blood pressure. 

 

 

Steps you can take to minimize hair loss during cancer treatment

 

1) Include Vitamin D in your diet

Close-up of Fruits in Bowl

The deficiency of vitamins is one of the most common reasons to lose hair. Either use vitamin D supplements or simply include foods that have high amounts of vitamin D. Medical News Today article suggested that (Medical News Today, 2019), Vitamin D is one of the crucial vitamins needed in our body. Particularly for hair growth, as it creates new hair follicles which further helps to maintain the hair.

2) Exercise – Take care of your body

Person Running Near Street Between Tall Trees

When it comes to your hair’s health, some things are within your control — eating a healthy diet, having a decent amount of sleep to help our body regenerate. In addition to physical benefits, exercise is a proven way to increase dopamine. This will come in handy in 3 very important ways.

  • Increased dopamine will lift your mood to help you and empower you on your journey.
  • Improve your overall fitness.
  • Improve blood circulation throughout your body which helps maintain your hair.

Experiment with different ways to exercise and pick the one you most enjoy! Stretching, weight lifting, running, cycling…the world is your oyster! Convince a friend to exercise with you to make it more enjoyable!

3) Use more organic products on your hair 

Cheese on Saucer

Non-organic hair products may give you the desired effect immediately but it takes its toll on your hair over time. Try to minimize chemically enhanced products you use. Your hair will thank you for it!

4) Get healthy amounts of sleep

Kitten Lying on Surface

Can lack of sleep cause hair loss? Well, in a 2018 study it has been shown to increase levels of stress which contribute to thinning and hair loss. This can, directly and indirectly, affect your hair. The staple 8-hour sleep may not work for everybody, some require an hour less or more. Experiment around 8 hours less or more to find out the amount that works best for your body.

5) Do not stress about hair loss

Woman in White Sweater Leaning Beside Doorway

 

Finally, remember, surround yourself with people going through a similar experience. You can have a look at the support groups we have links to in this article. Remember you are not alone going through this. Focus on the support you get from loved ones and family and know that you still rock it no matter what!

References:
 
· Alopecia UK. (2019). Types of Alopecia. [online] Available at: https://www.alopecia.org.uk/Pages/FAQs/Category/types-of-alopecia 
 
· Alopecia UK. (2019). What we do. [online] Available at: https://www.alopecia.org.uk/what-we-do 
 
· Anon, (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk/ 
 
· British Skin Foundation. (2019). Alopecia Areata. [online] Available at: https://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/alopecia-areata 
 
· Cancerresearchuk.org. (2019). Hair loss, hair thinning and cancer drugs | Cancer drugs | Cancer Research UK. [online] Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/side-effects/hair-loss-and-thinning 
 
· Medical News Today. (2019). Vitamin D deficiency hair loss: Symptoms and treatment. [online] Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321673.php
 
· NHS UK (2019). Hair loss. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hair-loss/ 
· Healthline (2019). Chemotherapy and Hair Loss: Timing, Prevention Tips, and More. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/cancer/managing-chemo-hair-loss#1 

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