If your hair is likely to thin…
Cancer Treatment and Hair Loss
Because it is visible to others, hair loss (alopecia) can be one of the more distressing
aspects of your treatment for cancer. We understand because we have been there
ourselves. How much hair is lost?
Chemotherapy may affect all body hair. Since scalp hair is generally in an active
growth phase, it is affected by chemotherapy more often than other body hair. Hair
loss is usually temporary among patients receiving chemotherapy.
Radiation therapy affects hair in the area that is being arradiated. With radiation
therapy, hair loss may or may not be permanent. The amount of hair loss can range
from thinning to complete baldness. For patients treated with chemotherapy, the
degree of hair loss is dependent on the drug and dosage used. The quantity of hair
loss as a result of radiation therapy is dose and site dependent. Why does hair fall out?
Cancer cells divide and grow rapidly. Hair is also made up of fast growing cells.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are designed to affect any cells that multiply
quickly and cannot differentiate between cancer cells and hair cells. This causes the
hair to fall out at the root. What can I do to prepare myself?
Being prepared and talking about how you feel with others can help you adjust to
this temporary change in appearance. If you have children it is important to prepare
them for this change. Eyebrow or eyelash loss….
Eyelashes normally protect your eyes from dirt, dust and grit. Without them it is a
good idea to wear glasses or sunglasses when you are outdoors. Artificial Tears may
keep your eyes lubricated.
Some people choose to ‘create’ eyebrows with an eyebrow pencil.
If your hair is likely to thin….
Use a gentle shampoo & conditioner.
Brush/comb your hair gently. Think about using a baby brush.
Some women prefer to cut their hair into a short style as this can give the
Protect your scalp from the sun. Wear a hat or scarf.
Avoid heated rollers/curling wands/straighteners.
Avoid perming or straightening your hair.
If you colour your hair, ask your hairdresser to use/ recommend a vegetable
Use a satin rather than cotton pillow cover.
If you are likely to lose all of your hair….
Hair usually starts to fall out about 2-3 weeks after the first treatment and it
generally happens quickly. First your scalp may become tender, dry and itchy. A flaky scalp can be removed by rubbing the scalp with moist cotton wool and then massaging the scalp with oil (Amanita have rich massage oil).
Seeing your hair on the pillow can be upsetting. You may wish to wear a
Some people choose to shave their hair and it gets the trauma of the hair loss
If you have lost hair under your armpits, avoid using perfumed deodorants.
Use a mild unperfumed deodorant such as crystal. Amanita stocks a range of these from which to choose.
Draw attention away from the hair by highlighting other features….
For women, a little extra makeup around the eyes, cheekbones or lips will
Experiment with new colours for eyes and lips.
Experiment with jewellery. Chains can emphasize the neckline while striking
earrings can enhance a short hairstyle or look good with a hat or scarf.
Look at different headwear options.
What hair alternatives are available?
Some people choose to wear a wig. Choose a natural looking hair wig that will
stay in place, is easy to care for, comfortable to wear, and reasonably priced
Head wraps that are cotton or polyester
Scarves and turbans. Try wrapping and twisting coloured scarves around the
Cotton hats Whatever your needs, Amanita can help fit you with your choice of head covering.
Especially for children
Children can also lose their hair during chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It can be
difficult for children to face friends at school or playing sport. Teasing may occur and
this maybe upsetting. Ask the school teacher/counselor for support.
Children may find a wig a bother and choose not to wear one. Some girls may like a
fun, colourful wig. Baseball caps and beanies are popular headwear for children.
Scarves & head wraps are also popular and can be tied in lots of different ways.
Will my hair grow back?
Your hair loss caused by chemotherapy is temporary. Usually when treatment is
finished, the hair will start to grow back and this may happen even before the
treatment has been completed.
The first hairs are usually very fine and they reappear within a month or 6 weeks of
stopping treatment. Within 3 to 6 months you will probably have a full head of hair.
You may notice some changes in your hair when it grows back. For example, it may
be a little more curly, thicker or finer than before. It may grow back a different colour.
After radiotherapy your hair will usually grow back although it can take 6 to 12
months to grow back completely. You may find that the regrowth is patchy and it is
also possible that the hair may not grow back at all.
Chemotherapy Treatments and Hair Loss
Amount of hair loss to be expected
When hair is likely to fall out
Amanita Services Sdn Bhd (788618-H)
Lot 1.06, 1st Floor, The Ampwalk, 218 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Sime Darby Medical Centre (formerly known as Subang Jaya Medical Centre)
1 Jalan SS12/A, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia Tel/Fax: 603-5639 1540
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