Hair Before During and After Chemo: What to Expect

What happens to your hair before during and after chemo:

If you have cancer and are about to undergo chemotherapy, you are probably wondering what might happen to your hair as your treatment progresses. Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking rapidly growing cancer cells, but they also attack other rapidly growing cells, such as the ones in your hair roots. While hair loss on the scalp tends to be the most noticeable, chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over your body including eyelashes, eyebrows, armpit, pubic and other body hair. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, and different doses can cause anything from mere thinning to complete baldness. Your doctor can tell you whether your particular chemotherapy treatment is likely to cause hair loss for the duration of treatment. If so, here are some things you can expect before during and after chemotherapy.

Before chemo:

Strengthening your hair before chemo might keep it around a bit longer during treatment. Don’t bleach, color or perm your hair as this can weaken it. Air-dry your hair as much as possible and avoid heated styling devices such as curling irons and hot rollers.

Consider cutting your hair short so as it falls out, it won’t be as dramatically noticeable.

Plan for a wig before you need it. Check if your insurance company will cover the cost for a cranial prosthesis (the insurance term for a wig) and ask your doctor to write a prescription.

When you begin chemo:

Generally, hair loss sets in 2 to 3 weeks after the first course of chemotherapy. Some people lose their hair gradually, while others immediately lose hair in large quantities.

You’ll probably notice loose hair on your pillow, in your hairbrush or comb, or in your sink or shower drain. Your scalp may feel tender as the hair starts to fall out. Some patients report itching or a tickling sensation. The sensation generally only lasts a few days and experiences vary from person to person.

During treatment:

There is no proven regimen or technique which will stop hair loss during chemotherapy, although cooling caps and hair growth stimulants do have varying degrees of success. All you can do during treatment is to baby your remaining hair and protect your exposed scalp:

  • Use a soft brush.
  • Wash your hair with a gentle shampoo only as often as necessary.
  • Protect your scalp with sunscreen or a head covering
  • Avoid using a hair dryer or other heated styling tools.
  • Use a satin pillowcase which will pull less on your fragile hair.
  • Don’t brush your hair when it is wet
  • Don’t dye or chemically treat your hair

After treatment:

Fortunately, hair loss from chemotherapy is almost always temporary. It may take several weeks after treatment for your hair to recover and begin growing again. Some people will notice immediate growth, and for others, it might take a month or two. It is equally possible for your hair to start growing back during treatment. You can expect to regrow your hair three to six months after your treatment ends, though your hair may temporarily be a different shade or texture. It might be curlier and thicker, or softer and finer than it was before; it could even be prematurely gray. For some people, these changes are temporary, and you will get your “own” hair back after a few months to a year.  For others, the changes are permanent.

If you are experiencing hair loss due to illness, genetics, chemotherapy or other reasons, Artemis Hair Studio will be your partner whether you want to look like you again or try something completely different. We specialize in creating high-quality, natural looking wigs that are custom designed to match the style, color and cut you want. Call 713-576-6918or complete our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced stylists today.

11/30/18 | 0 comments | in Chemotherapy Wigs

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