Hair loss, or alcopecia, varies from slight thinning to complete loss of hair. The loss of hair may include scalp, facial, axillary, pubic and body hair. Radiation therapy may cause hair loss in the area that is treated. Loss of hair occurs over a period of days or weeks. When the hair does grow back, frequently there is a change in the color or texture. Regrowth usually occurs in six to eight weeks after completion of therapy. Not all chemotherapy or radiation will cause hair loss.
What Can A Cancer Patient Do About Hair Loss?
- Use gentle protein-based shampoo such as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, followed by a cream rinse or conditioner every three to five days to keep hair in good condition.
- Rinse hair thoroughly and pat dry gentle to avoid damaging the hair.
- Turbans, hats and scarves are attractive alternatives to wigs and hairpieces. Have the cancer patient choose a color and style he or she finds comfortable and enjoyable.
- Before hair loss occurs, it might be a good idea to see a professional to assist in selecting a wig that closely matches the patient’s hairstyle and color. Early consultation can ease a person’s mind before starting treatment.
- Limit the use of hair clips, barrettes, elastic bands, bobby pins, hair sprays, dyes, permanents, blow dryers, hot rollers and curling irons.
- When outdoors, cover the head to prevent heat loss and sunburn.
- It’s a good idea to check with the insurance company, as it may cover the cost of a hairpiece.
There is also a wonderful and humorous little video on YouTube, created by a cancer survivor, on dealing with hair loss, that you might want to share with a cancer patient: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyQy6ehgOhE
This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. A cancer patient should always seek the advice of his or her physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment.