Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Coping With Hair Loss During Chemotherapy Treatments
Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October aims to increase awareness of the disease and the importance of early detection, and to raise money for research and treatment.
There are a lot of common misconceptions surrounding breast cancer and, at this difficult time, it is important that you have as many facts as possible. That is why the hair experts at Goldsworthy’s salons have provided lots of information about what happens to your hair during cancer treatment, with tips on how to care for your hair during this time.
Overcoming your illness is, of course, the most important thing, but we are here to help if you need support and advice with regards to your hair.
Hair Loss During Cancer Treatments
For many people diagnosed with cancer, one of the most distressing side effects of cancer treatment is hair loss. Everybody adapts to hair loss is their own way, but for some people it can be a truly devastating experience. Hair loss is a very visible side effect of cancer treatment which can affect our self-esteem and sense of identity.
Following chemotherapy, hair loss commonly begins within two to three weeks. The hair loss affects body and facial hair including eyebrows and eyelashes. However, hair loss is in most cases a temporary side effect of the treatment, so hair will start to grow back after chemotherapy is over or even towards the end of your cancer treatment.
Hair that grows back after chemotherapy may feel different from your hair before treatment however, there may be a change in the texture and shape of your hair.
How to Treat Your Hair Before Chemotherapy Treatment
• Get into the habit now of being kind to your hair. Do not use harsh chemical treatments on your hair including perms or hair colour — this can weaken it. Stay away heated styling tools such as straighteners or rollers and try to air-dry your hair wherever possible. Strengthening and nourishing your hair and scalp now might make it more likely to stay in your head a little longer during treatment.
• Short hair can be styled in such a way that it can look thicker than longer hair, as your hair starts to fall out it will be less noticeable with a shorter hairstyle. A shorter hairstyle may also make the transition to hair loss less upsetting for you, it is important to keep stress to a minimum as much as possible during this time. Speak to your stylist about a shorter hairstyle before your treatment starts.
• Many women choose to wear their heads bare, but if that is not something you wish to do, you may want to think about head coverings to conceal your hair loss. You can choose from many head coverings, wigs and scarves are the most popular head coverings. There are some fantastic high-quality synthetic wigs and real human hair wigs on the market, that are practically indetectable.
How to Care For Your Hair During Chemotherapy
• Continue to be gentle with your hair throughout your chemotherapy treatment. Use a soft brush, such as a baby brush. Use a gentle shampoo free from parabens and chemicals. Wash your hair only when very necessary.
• Some women report that their scalps sensitive, itchy and can become irritated during their chemotherapy treatment and whilst their hair is falling out. It is possible to reduce the irritation by shaving your head. Many women shave their heads because it can save the embarrassment of shedding and can look better than patchy hair loss.
•Your scalp can become very sensitive throughout treatment and so you must protect it with a sunscreen, or even a head covering such as a wig or headscarf. Extreme cold can also make your head feel sensitive, so ensuring that it is covered will help you to feel less uncomfortable.
Will My Hair Grow Back After Chemotherapy?
• Your new hair growth will be especially fragile and vulnerable to damage, so you should continue with your gentle treatment. Do not colour your hair until it becomes stronger, this may damage your new hair and irritate your scalp. Avoid heated styling such as rollers or curling tongs and air dry your hair as often as possible.
•New, healthy hair growth takes time. Your new hair may grow in slowly and could grow back in a different texture or colour to before, sometimes previously straight hair can grow back curly. You will need to be patient as it could be up to 6 months until you can expect a healthy head of hair.