Chemotherapy and Hair Loss


Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss Chemotherapy is a treatment option to cure cancer of different types. Cancer doctors have to use harsh chemicals to kill cancerous cells and the whole body gets affected. So hair also becomes weaker and start falling during the course of treatment. A doctor can tell how much hair loss can occur due to particular chemotherapy treatment. Why does chemotherapy cause hair loss? Can we stop hair loss due to chemotherapy? This article discusses why chemotherapy causes hair loss. If you want to know how hair loss can be reduced during chemotherapy, this topic is for you.

7 Facts About Hair Loss Due To Chemotherapy

The debate about hair loss due to chemotherapy is too long but we can discuss the main points about this topic. Let’s discuss the seven most important facts about chemotherapy and hair fall.

Here are the seven most important facts about chemotherapy and hair fall:

1. Chemotherapy Does Not Always Cause Hair Loss

There are different types of chemotherapy and some types are not likely to cause hair fall. If you are due to receive such treatment, you should ask your doctor about the chances of hair loss. The hair loss can start 2 to 4 weeks after the start of chemotherapy.

2. Hair Loss Due To Chemotherapy Normally Temporary

Good news is; the hair loss that occurs due to chemotherapy is not permanent. Mean to say, the hair will grow back once you are done with chemotherapy.

The hair growth can start three to six weeks after the end of treatment. Treat your hair gently if you want your hair to grow back strong. During this time, it is important to avoid hair styling and hair care products that can harm the hair.

3. Scalp Cooling Caps Can Shield Against Chemo Hair Loss

Some tips can help you reduce the rate of hair fall during chemotherapy infusion. One of the options is to wear a scalp cooling cap during this time. These caps are believed to slow the flow of blood to the scalp which lowers the supply of drugs to the scalp. This process slows down the hair fall.

On the other hand, there are some side effects of wearing cooling caps. Research suggests that cooling caps can increase the risk of scalp cancer at a later stage. Some topical hair growth drugs can also help but their effects are not significant generally.

4. Having A Short Haircut Can Reduce Chemo Hair Loss

Some experts recommend having a short haircut during chemotherapy because the rate of hair fall is likely to reduce if the hair size is short. The scalp can become irritated, itchy, or sensitive during chemotherapy and short hair can reduce these side effects as well.

5. A Person/Patient Can Also Give Head Coverings A Try

Consider wearing a head covering if you feel self-conscious about hair loss. It is important to know that this touch phase is going to end very soon. In this regard, you have many options; from wigs to scarves to hats. By covering the head properly, the person will also be able to avoid the negative effects of cold air and the sunlight.

6. Your Medical Insurance Plan May Cover Wigs Charges

You may have medical insurance and you should contact your insurance provider because some insurance companies cover the cost of wig (fully or partially). Some advocacy organizations also help people fund such items.

7. Do Not Worry If Chemo Hair Loss Makes You Feel Worried

It is true that chemotherapy is a tough time but it is going to end very soon. There are different ways to feel better during this time. Stay connected to the world is important during this time to avoid distress and frustration. Joining support groups is helpful for some people.

Why Does Hair Fall During Chemotherapy?

As mentioned above, cancerous cells are quite strong and it is not possible to get rid of them without using strong medications. So powerful medications can also attack other cells including but not limited to hair growing cells known as hair follicles. As a result, it is common for chemotherapy patients to experience mild or major hair loss. It is not just the scalp that gets affected due to it, the hair on other areas of the body including but not limited to eyebrow hair and eyelashes hair also get affected. The patient can have just hair thinning to complete baldness depending on the doses that a person gets. If you are going to receive chemotherapy, your doctor can guide you about expected hair loss. Do not be worried if you need to take chemotherapy because hair loss from it is temporary mostly.

The hair does not immediately start falling once a person starts taking chemotherapy. It can take two to four weeks to start hair loss after starting this treatment. For some people, it can take even longer to start experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy. Once hair starts falling, the process may suddenly get quick and a huge number of hairs may start falling all of sudden. Surely, this time is hard for the patient because many other issues start occurring besides hair loss. Unfortunately, the hair will keep falling throughout the course of the treatment.

How Early Will Your Hair Grow Back After Chemotherapy?

Good news is; hair will start growing properly once chemotherapy ends successfully. However, it can take weeks after chemotherapy ends to start growing hair normally. It is also possible that the hair growth pattern and type of hair changes when hair starts growing again. This difference in hair growth and type may end at a later stage.

Can Chemotherapy-Related Hair Loss Be Prevented?

There is no perfect solution for this kind of hair loss but common hair growth methods (including the following) can help.

  • Scalp cooling caps
  • Minoxidil (Rogaine)

Please note that hair loss is not easy to control or prevent but it is possible to manage it. A person can ensure improvement by taking the following practical steps:

Before treatment

  • Always try to be gentle to your hair. 
  • Try to use something to cover the head. 
  • Consider taking a haircut with short hair.

Taking Care During The Treatment

  • The patient should protect the scalp from all harms. 
  • The patient should take care of remaining hair like a baby. 
  • The patient should consider shaving the head to feel better.

Taking Care After the Treatment 

  • Be patient; it is going to end soon. 
  • Continue gentle hair care after the treatment.

Covering The Head Can Be Helpful

Covering head during chemotherapy may not make sense but it can be helpful in reducing hair fall. This way, the patient will not focus too much on the scalp hair and will not become worried and stressed. Moreover, the hair will stay safe from harmful factors this way. It is the choice of the patient to wear a scarf or a wig, or a hat. If a person is not able to decide what suits for covering the head, a doctor or cancer patient can guide the right option of covering the head. It is not necessary to cover the head all the time; but, the more the merrier.

Hair Loss Due To Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is another option to treat cancer. It is not just chemotherapy, radiation therapy can also attack body cells that grow rapidly. However, this type of cancer treatment only affects the area where treatment is being concentrated. For example, if the head of the person is receiving radiation therapy, the scalp hair is likely to fall. Your hair usually begins growing back after the end of your treatment. The type of hair the patient grows after treatment depends on the level of radiation received. Radiation therapy also affects the skin of the patient. The area of the body that received radiation may change its color temporarily.

Advanced Hair Growth Treatments

The person who is undergoing chemotherapy can lose a huge number of hair. It is important to mention that the hair will start growing back once the treatment ends. However, if your hair does not start growing again or you just want to grow it faster, you can try an advanced hair growth treatment. Some of the advanced hair growth treatments include PRP Treatment for hair loss, low-level laser therapy, hair transplant surgery, and topical medication treatment. It is also important to mention that taking care of the scalp and hair is also important besides trying hair growth treatments. Hair transplant can regrow hair if a person loses hair due to chemotherapy. The hair transplant cost varies from person to person. If you want to know more about this topic, it is good to get in touch with a doctor or more preferably an oncologist.

Avoiding Chemotherapy Hair Loss: The Bottom Line

This article discusses why chemotherapy causes hair loss. If you want to know how hair loss can be reduced during chemotherapy this topic might have helped you. In the end, we can conclude that hair loss occurs during chemotherapy and one cannot stop it fully. However, it is possible to reduce the level of hair loss due to chemotherapy. Do not hesitate to contact a hair growth expert in your area if you need more details about this topic. You can also read the following articles or you can read educational material online.


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