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?
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
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.
Preparing for Hair Loss
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
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
· Blot hair instead of scrubbing after shampooing.
· Dry hair with warm air instead of hot air.
4. Dealing With Loss Of
Eyebrows And Lashes
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.
Hot or Cold Head
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)
will my hair grow back?
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
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.