Will I lose my hair with chemotherapy / radiotherapy?

Will I lose my hair? A question asked almost simultaneously when telling a patient they need chemotherapy. Throughout history, hair has been a symbol of strength and beauty. So, it is understandable why the idea of losing your hair can be distressing.

Radiotherapy and surgery often cause hair loss, but chemotherapy is the main perpetrator. To kill cancer cells, chemotherapy attacks any cells that rapidly divide. Sadly, these also include our hair follicles, which can cause eyebrows, eyelashes and hair to fall out. Radiotherapy causes hair loss and hair thinning through a similar mechanism; radiation kills rapidly dividing cells, but you should only experience hair loss or thinning if having radiotherapy to the head. 

For those undergoing chemo, the rate and level of hair loss will depend on what type of chemotherapy you are having (there are hundreds of different chemotherapy drugs), the amount and frequency. Some chemotherapy drugs are more known to cause hair loss than others. Your treating Doctor (Oncologist) or Nurse will be able to give your more information as to whether hair loss may be a side-effect you may experience.

If you do find your hair may fall out, there are ways to maintain your confidence. Many patients are now buying less expensive wigs, then taking them to their trusted hairdresser to have them properly styled, cut and even coloured. A good hairdresser will be able to cut your hair shorter while your hair starts falling out, so it is not such a big transition. Scarfs and beanies are other great low-cost alternatives. A cotton or bamboo beanie will be more breathable than a wool beanie and less itchy. 

Some people may even be offered to use Scalp Cooling or a Cold Cap while undergoing chemo. These caps are applied directly to your head and decrease the chances of hair loss occurring. Studies have found Scalp Cooling to be successful depending on the type of chemo you are having and cancer diagnosis. Scalp Cooling isn't for everyone, and once you start chemo cannot be used, but it is a great alternative to hair loss if able to use. 

Hair loss can be a distressing experience, but do not feel you are alone. It's a common reaction. Speaking to your doctor, nurse or support group for more information can help reduce anxiety levels.

 

At Live Better With our patients found the following products beneficial when dealing with hair loss:

Soft Cotton Headscarf - Set of Two: 

We wanted to create a good quality, soft, 100% cotton headscarf that you'll feel stylish and secure in. Coming in a variety of prints and colours, you'll be sure to find a set that matches your individual look. 

 

 

Hair Loss Kit:

When finished treatment, people want their hair to grow back as quickly as possible. We have curated the Hair Loss Kit to promote healthy hair growth post chemo. The kit contains Nioxtin System 2 Starter Kit, which can speed up hair growth by 100% when regularly used. Lindens Biotin Vitamins for hair growth with B-complex vitamin B7, a vitamin that assists in hair strength and growth. And Coconut Oil, which will support, and moisturise new hair growth.

 

RapidHair Volumising Formula: 

Leaving the hair and scalp soft and smooth, Rapid Hair Volumizing Formula is ideal for those wanting thicker looking and fuller hair. Containing Hexatin 4 Complex Nanotechnology, The Raid Hair Volumizing Formula enhances new hair growth after treatment. 

 

RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum:

Chemo can cause eyelashes and eyebrows to fall out. Our community recommends using RapidLash after chemo has finished to speed up lash growth. The serum moisturises and nourishes eyelash follicles and is safe to use with contact lenses.

 

Sorrento Bamboo Hat Multipack:

When you lose your hair, or it becomes thinner, many people notice that certain hats or materials can make their scalp hot, itchy and uncomfortable. Made of 95% Bamboo, Sorrento Bamboo Hats are found to be more comfortable due to the breathability and antibacterial properties. 

 

Elasto-Gel Hypothermia Cooling Cap for Hair Loss:

Scalp cooling can reduce hair loss caused by chemotherapy. It works by cooling and contracting the blood vessels to the scalp, which reduces the amount of chemotherapy drugs carried to the hair follicles. Always discuss with your treating doctor first if this product is right for you.

 

For more ideas and tips, visit our handy hair loss guide.

If you have a something you'd like to share, we would love to hear from you. Email our Nursing Lead, Elizabeth at elizabeth@livebetterwith.com

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