bald beauty hair loss
Hair Conditions

Overcome Hair Loss: Different Hair Options for Cancer Patients

Hair Loss Isn’t The End

Hair loss is one of the most emotionally devastating side effects of chemotherapy due to cancer.

For many women all around the world, so much of your identity and personality reflect in your hair. Hair is a physical representation of your confidence and sense of self. Losing it can be unexpected and genuinely upsetting.

However, if much of your spirit lies within those locks you once had, you can gain that self-esteem back by investing in different hair options.

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How Chemotherapy Affects Hair

Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells, healthy cells as well as cancer cells.

A hair follicle is the structures in the skin filled with tiny blood vessels that make hair and are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. If you’re not in cancer treatment, your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours.

But as the chemo does its work against cancer cells, it also destroys hair cells. Within a few weeks of starting chemo, you may lose some or all of your hair.
If you are receiving chemotherapy treatment, your hair loss may be gradual or dramatic.

Some examples include clumps in your hairbrush, handfuls in the tub drain or on your pillow. Some chemotherapy drugs affect only the hair on your head. Others cause the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, pubic hair, and hair on your legs, arms, or underarms.

The extent of hair loss depends on which drugs or other treatments you use, and for how long. Also, the timing of your medications will also affect hair loss.

Some types of chemotherapy are given weekly and in small doses, and this minimizes hair loss. Other treatments are scheduled every three to four weeks in higher doses and may be more likely to cause more hair loss.

hair loss

Chemotherapy Drugs

Adriamycin

This type of medication causes complete hair loss on the head, usually during the first few weeks of treatment. Some women also lose eyelashes and eyebrows.

Methotrexate

This medication thins hair in some people but not others. And it’s rare to have complete hair loss from methotrexate.

Cytoxan and 5-Fluorouracil

These cause minimal hair loss in most women, but some may lose a great deal.

Taxol

This usually causes complete hair loss, including head, brows, lashes, pubic area, legs, and arms.

shedding hair on comb

Tips Throughout The Process

Before we get into looks you can rock, it is essential to treat your hair properly before, during, and after chemotherapy. Here are some hair care tips.

Before Chemotherapy

Be gentle with your hair.

You want to get in the habit of being careful with your hair. Do not bleach, color or perm your hair because this can cause severe damage and weaken it.

Another great tip is to also air dry your hair as much as possible and avoid heating devices such as curling irons and hot rollers because they can cause damage as well.

Strengthening your hair now might make it more likely to stay in your head a little longer during treatment.

Consider cutting your hair. Short hair tends to look fuller than long hair.

So as your hair falls out, it won’t be as noticeable if you have short hair. If you have long hair, going shorter may be a better transitioning point for you while you go through chemotherapy.

short curly hair

Use gentle hair care products.

You want to keep your hair in its healthiest state. It is best to do this by using products such as shampoos and conditioners that are natural or sulfate free. You do not want to add any extra unnecessary chemicals to your hair.

Plan for your next hair care steps.

It is essential to think about what you want to do with your hair after hair loss before you even start chemo. That way you can begin chemo confident that you have a plan for what you want.

conditioner

During Chemotherapy

Baby your remaining hair.

You want to continue to use gentle products on your hair and treat it with utmost care. Make sure to be gentle with it and use a soft brush. When washing, gently towel dry, etc. You want to be very careful with your hair as it is prone to shedding during this time.

Protect your scalp.

If you expose your head to the sun or cold air, protect it with sunscreen or a head covering. Your scalp may be sensitive as you go through treatment, so extreme cold or sunshine can easily irritate it.

Not only does covering your head with sunscreen or perhaps a scarf or hat help protect your scalp, but it can also help keep your hair healthier longer and keep it from exposure to extreme weather which can cause damage.

After Chemotherapy

Continue gentle hair care.

Your new hair growth will be very fragile and vulnerable to the damage caused by styling products and heating devices. You should not color or bleach your new hair until it grows strong.

Processing could damage your new hair and irritate your sensitive scalp. Continue using light hair products and being gentle with your hair until you are sure it is strong again.

Patience is key.

It’s likely that your hair will come back slowly and that it might not look normal right away. But hair growth takes time. Your hair may not look its best when you want it to, but it is a slow and steady process.

Take your time with your hair and embrace the journey back to health.

short curly hair

Your Best Hair Option

If you are going through chemotherapy and have lost a significant amount of hair or are experiencing severe shedding and do not know what to do, thankfully there are several excellent options to explore.

Here are some looks you can try while you are going through the process of regrowing your hair.

Sporting A Bald Look

Shaving your head may be the quickest and easiest option.

Cutting your hair is a striking and bold new look that you can pull off! It is also a great way to start the process of getting your healthy hair back.

Here are some tips to help care for your shaved head and promote healthy hair growth:

bald head

Tip #1 Continue using shampoo and conditioner

A Lot of times people think because their hair is gone or that it is buzzed they do not need to wash their hair.

However, it isn’t about washing your hair but more so about taking care of your scalp. Oils and dirt can build up on your scalp making it harder for your hair to grow. So make sure to continue wash day!

Tip #2 Shield your scalp from the sun

Protecting your head from the sun is vital to keep your scalp from burning.

Hair will keep your hair protected, but because your hair is not covering your scalp, you want to use sunscreen or some head cover to protect it from intense heat.

Tip #3 Massage your scalp

Massaging is a tip that can help promote hair growth.

Stimulating your scalp supports proper blood flow which in turn translates to faster hair growth.

bald hair

Invest In Wigs

If you do not feel comfortable completely shaving your head, looking into getting a few wigs is a great way to conceal your hair while it grows.

Wigs are a good investment because they cause you to be more patient with your hair growth. Also, protective styling helps to keep your hair rested so it can strengthen.

You may want to buy a wig that is close to your natural color and style, so you do not feel like you are missing out on anything! Or you can try something different if you are looking for a fresh start.

There are so many options when buying a wig. It is also important to prep your hair the right way for a wig because you are still going through the process of transitioning your hair back to its healthy state.

wig heads beauty supply

Buy Hair Pieces

If your hair loss is not as severe and you just have thinning or a few bald spots, getting hair pieces can help make your hair look full and cover up any places you may not want people to see.

Hairpieces are great because they are designed to give you extra coverage, right where you want it. There are many different types of hair pieces you can get. And you can get pieces that cover specific areas.

You can choose from a variety of different lengths, colors, base sizes and hair types (human hair or synthetic hair). They’re a great wig alternative and an ideal hair solution.

Other ways you can style your hair is by wearing hats and headscarves. Those are a fashionable way to conceal your hair and still look flawless while doing so.

kinky curly clip ins

You’re Beautiful Without Your Hair

More importantly than repairing your hair, you want to restore your confidence.

Many women feel empowered by their hair, and their self-esteem shatters when they lose it. It is important to realize that you are not your hair but the beautiful and strong woman that is fighting underneath it.

It is incredible that there are many options out there for you if you are dealing with hair loss. Be patient with your hair and with yourself, and you will see remarkable results.

About Maira Tarawallie

I am a student at the Ohio State University. International relations major and aspiring MUA. I love anything that has to do with hair and beauty!

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