Hair loss is a common and pretty well-known side effect of chemotherapy. But, why? And, is there any way to prevent chemotherapy-related hair loss? Let’s answer those questions now.
Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss?
Chemotherapy drugs are very powerful, and they work by attacking rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in the body, including the ones in your hair roots.
Chemotherapy is known to cause hair loss all over the body, not only on the scalp. This includes eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, and other body hair.
Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause hair loss than others, and different doses may cause the hair to thin or fall out completely.
What Can I Do to Prevent Chemotherapy-Related Hair Loss?
While there is no known treatment that will absolutely guarantee your hair won’t fall out during or after chemo, there are several treatments that have been investigated as possible ways to prevent chemotherapy-related hair loss, including:
Scalp cooling caps, or scalp hypothermia: During chemo infusions, a closely fitted cap can be worn that is cooled by chilled liquid. The cap works to slow the blood flow to the scalp, which makes chemotherapy drugs less likely to impact the hair.
Minoxidil (Rogaine): Minoxidil is a drug approved for treating hair loss. However, applying it to your scalp before and during chemo isn’t likely going to prevent hair loss. Some research has shown it can help to speed up hair regrowth, however.
Managing Chemo-Related Hair Loss
Though you can’t prevent or even control hair loss from chemotherapy, you can manage it. Take the following steps throughout chemo treatment to alleviate some of the frustration and anxiety that comes with hair loss.
Be gentle to your hair: Be kind, patient, and gentle to your hair. Don’t color, bleach, or perm it during your treatment because all of these can weaken the hair. Try to let your hair air dry as much as you can and avoid heat styling.
Consider a cut: Short hair looks fuller than long hair. So, as your hair falls out, if you cut it short, it will be less noticeable.
Find a beautiful or fun head covering: Whether it’s a wig, a scarf, a hat, or another head covering, there are a number of ways to show off your personality and fashion sense while concealing your hair loss. Of course, whether you want to conceal the hair loss or embrace it, it is entirely up to you. If you ask your doctor for a prescription for a wig, your health insurance may cover the cost.
At Custom Hair Tampa Bay, we use high-quality medical wigs, which can alleviate the added stress of patients worrying about their appearance due to hair loss. To find a location near you click here.