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Hair Loss and Chemotherapy

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month This month our blogs are dedicated to the survivors, loved ones, and to those who lost the battle.

Chemotherapy uses a variety of drugs to stop cancer cells from dividing and prevent them from growing. These drugs are very aggressive and don’t discriminate between bad cancer cells and other rapidly growing good cells in our body. As a result, they attack the cells that are in your hair roots as those are fast growing cells. Not every form of chemo causes hair loss and your oncologist will advise you whether or not to expect it based on the chemo you will be receiving. In addition to the hair on their head some people will lose hair over the entire body. You may not end up with complete baldness, but it is possible.

Hair loss usually starts within two to four weeks after beginning chemotherapy treatment. You could notice large clumps of hair falling out on your pillow, in the drain, or in your brush or comb. Many people also feel a bit tender on their scalp. Throughout the treatment, you can expect to see hair loss and it could also continue for a few weeks after your treatment is complete. This varies from one person to the next. In addition to the potential effects of feeling ill from the chemo, hair loss can add to your feelings of depression and can be very emotionally debilitating.

The good news is that this type of hair loss is usually not permanent. Once your chemotherapy is complete you should see your hair begin to grow back after a few weeks. It does take time for your normal hair growth cycle to start over. Typically that is about three months or more. During the time from the beginning of chemo until your hair has grown back you do have options. It’s a matter of personal preference if you want to wear a wig or not. You can simply show off your baldness. For those who do not want to do this, you might want to consider a wig that is designed with you in mind. Some are made with softer interiors that are easier and gentler on tender scalps while others are not.

After speaking with your doctor and understanding what to expect regarding your hair, talk to a hair professional about the options that are available for you. Did you know that styles can be cut on the wig to create a look that’s right for you? If you or a loved one has started (or will be starting) chemotherapy and would like to learn more information about the wigs and cranial prostheses options available please contact the team at Natural Image Hair for a free, no obligation consultation conducted confidentially in a private room.