Sometimes the same cancer treatment that gives you back your health (or even your life) takes something away in the process — namely, your hair. Chemotherapy typically causes hair loss, not in an even pattern, but in unpredictable clumps. Thankfully, this situation is temporary, and in the meantime, there are several coping mechanisms you can employ. Let’s examine the issue of chemo-related hair loss and what you can do about this annoying problem.
Why Chemotherapy Causes Hair Loss
Chemotherapy works as a cancer treatment because the chemicals involved kill the faster-growing cells in your body, including cancer cells. Unfortunately, hair follicles are another fast-trying type of cell, reproducing themselves every 1 to 3 days. This rapid division places them in the crosshairs of chemotherapy drugs such as adriamycin, methotrexate, cytoxan and taxol. As the follicles die off, your hair falls out.
What to Expect During and After Chemotherapy
The degree of hair loss you experience during chemotherapy depends on the aggressiveness of the treatment and the specific drugs used. Some chemotherapy drugs cause patchy or minimal hair loss, while others (notably taxol) cause all the hair on your head and body to disappear. Thankfully, most chemotherapy patients can expect to see their hair growing back within 6 weeks (or even sooner) after they’ve finished their round of treatment. Don’t be overly surprised, however, if the new hair feels or looks slightly different than your old hair.
Coping with Chemo-Related Hair Loss
Until your hair finally regrows to your satisfaction, here are several things you can do to cope with your chemo-related hair loss. For example:
A liquid-filled cooling cap may slow or reduce chemo-related hair loss (unless your doctor is worried about the cancer recurring in your scalp)
Switching to a short haircut before treatment can make the hair loss less noticeable.
Going easy on hair color or heat treatment can help you preserve your remaining hair.
A colorful scarf, stylish hat and/or fashionable wig can cover hair loss — while also allowing you to feel more confident and in control.
Hair systems or hair restoration treatments might be an option for helping you regrow your hair as efficiently as possible.
Once your hair has grown back, take extra care to pamper it and avoid exposing it to anything that might damage it, from heat or bleaching agents to overly-tight hairstyles. Contact a Transitions Hair Loss Studio near you to learn more about how you can help your hair enjoy renewed health by clicking here.
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