Hair Loss & Coping

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Emotions of Hair Loss
2. Preparing for Hair Loss
3. Your Hair Loss
4. Dealing With Loss Of Eyelashes And Eyebrows
5. Hot Or Cold Head
6. Hair Re-Growth (How To Deal With New Hair)
 

1. Emotions of Hair Loss

How will I feel when I lose my hair?

The staff at Comfort Wigs, ETC has selected many wigs that are versatile enough to cut and style several different ways, making our inventory of 350 to 400 wigs virtually an unlimited number of style options. Our new clients are surprised that our wigs look and feel as good as they do, so there are many more clients with 'happy tears' than with sad tears in our salon. We know that it takes all of some ladies emotional strength just to get themselves here.

For most women, the loss of their hair is the most traumatic and difficult aspect of chemotherapy. Julia Rowland, Ph.D. at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington D.C. says, "Looking good despite what we may be going through can help one take control again, and can be a critical component to the healing process by providing powerful psychological benefits". Rowland also says, "Losing one’s hair is often the first overwhelming confrontation patients have with their illness. Until that point they might have easily hidden their disease from everyone, even themselves". The experience is emotionally draining especially when coupled with the physical rigors of a new treatment schedule. Studies have shown that a few women have actually refused chemotherapy because of fear of losing their hair! Some women feel a loss of femininity, style, and beauty. However, since the chemotherapy works on fast growing cells, the hair loss is evidence that the treatment is working.

Many types of cancer treatment will not cause hair loss as different chemo drugs have different side effects. Chemo drugs used to treat colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and 'other than small cell'  lung cancer probably will cause the hair to thin during treatment. Some people with very thick hair may not need to get a wig, although, Comfort Wigs, ETC deems it prudent to shop for a wig in case your hair thins rapidly. 

2. Preparing for Hair Loss

When should I change my style?
First, your hair will not fall out in clumps or patches! It will not fall out onto your dinner plate, nor will it stay on your pillow one morning when you get out of bed. You will hear horror stories about someone whose hair all fell out in the shower one morning, but these ladies were not informed of the timing or symptoms of chemotherapy related hair loss.  Hair loss will begin on or about the 14th day after your first treatment; therefore, it is prudent to consider an alternative to your own hair. Ideally, you should begin shopping for a wig soon after your diagnosis to have more time to become comfortable with it. If you want or need a style change, now is the time to have some fun! Get a wig in the new style and color, and then cut your hair in the style of the wig. Very few people will notice when you are wearing a wig or your real hair, and receiving a compliment on your new hair is really uplifting. Try wearing your new wig in your home around friends and family at first to get accustomed to it.

3. Your Hair Loss

What can I expect when the hair loss begins? How will it happen?
Not all chemotherapy will result in hair loss!  Your hair loss will be determined by the type of drug used, the aggressiveness of your protocol, and your general health when your treatment begins. Different cancer treatments, like some lung and colon cancers, will cause the hair to thin over several months and people with very thick hair may not need a wig at all, or perhaps not until late in their treatment. Aggressive protocols for most breast and gynecological cancers will cause hair loss to begin on about the 14th day. Loss varies with each individual, but once loss begins, brushing, combing, or even minor tugs will yield some of hair. You may consider cutting your hair very short at this time, because the shedding hair will be on your clothes, bedding, floor and drains. Shaving your head will result in a ‘stubble’ that can be irritating under the wig or turban. Try to cut your hair no shorter than 1/4 inch to avoid stubble, since not every hair on your head will fall out. A mesh hair net worn during the rapid hair loss period will contain the lost hair and can be discarded after use. Most people experience slight tingling or minor itching of the scalp 1 to 2 days before hair loss begins. Around 1% of the chemotherapy patients report that their scalp ‘hurts’ or that their head hurts because the hair is there. These patients are glad to get their hair cut really short as soon as possible.
Caring for the scalp during and after hair loss is very important. To protect from itching and dryness, you should;
· Gently brush and comb falling hair away.
· Shampoo and condition with mild protein based products.
· Massage scalp gently to improve circulation and remove dry and dead  cells.
· Blot hair instead of scrubbing after shampooing.
· Dry hair with warm air instead of hot air.

4. Dealing With Loss Of Eyebrows And Lashes

What if I lose my eyebrows and eyelashes?
Not everyone who undergoes chemotherapy will lose his or her brows and lashes. If you do lose your brows and lashes, they will most likely be lost after your head hair, so the loss of will seem somewhat minor in comparison. Eyebrows drawn on with eyebrow pencil will usually work well enough. Some consider tattooing (permanent makeup), but considering the short time before re-growth, tattooing is just an added expense during a stressful financial time. Check with your doctor before tattooing. Brows and lashes will become brittle when exposed to the sun, so wear sunglasses when outdoors for protection.

5. Hot or Cold Head

Will my head get hot or cold at night?
When sleeping or when not wearing your wig, you will need to protect your scalp. Always wear a head cover for protection from the sun or cold when outdoors. Dermatologists and skin specialists agree that you should use a sun block with a SPF factor of at least 15. Without hair for heat retention, your head will get colder than usual. 60% of body heat lost at night is lost through the head; this is why stocking caps were worn before homes were heated at night. If a stocking cap is too hot or scratchy, the Slumber Cap is made of a non-slip fabric, soft on the scalp, and lighter in weight than a stocking cap.

6. Hair Re-growth (How To Deal With New Hair)

When will my hair grow back?
Hair re-growth seems to be a little different with everybody. Some experience a little re-growth even before their last treatment. Normally, the chemotherapy has to be absent from the body before re-growth begins. The new hair must be regenerated in the papilla (root) and grow to the scalp surface before being seen. This process takes 21 to 35 days. Hair normally grows 1/3 to 1/2 inch per month, so be patient. Do not expect your new hair to be the same as the hair before chemotherapy. Your new hair can grow in a different color, texture, or thickness, and the amount of curl may change. Even the growth directions can be different. At a growth rate of 1/3 to1/2 inch per month, it will take 11 to 12 weeks after your last treatment to get 11/2 full inches of hair. It is amazing how exciting it is to have hair again! Keep the hair trimmed at the back bottom hairline and over the ears for a more groomed look.

Wear your wig as little as possible to allow the new hair to ‘breath’. A wig or head cover can force the new hair to grow in the direction the wig pushes it, creating less than desired growth patterns. Be gentle shampooing, conditioning, towel blotting, brushing, combing, and styling your hair. Stay away from perms, bleach, and ‘one step’ hair colors. If you want or need hair color, have a cosmetologist color or bleach using the weave or foil method of off the scalp highlighting. Done properly, the chemical never touches the scalp; therefore, the only real contact is the smell of the chemical.



500 E. Round Grove Rd, Suite 306
Lewisville, Texas 75067
214-488-8885 1-866-383-8885
FAX 972-316-8885

Open 9:00 to 5:00 Tuesday thru Friday
and 9:00 to 3:00 Saturday
Closed Sunday & Monday.



500 E. Round Grove Rd, Suite 306
Lewisville, Texas 75067
214-488-8885 1-866-383-8885
FAX 972-316-8885

Open 9:00 to 5:00 Tuesday thru Friday
and 9:00 to 3:00 Saturday
Closed Sunday & Monday.