Hair loss is often the most visible indicator that a person has cancer and it can be a deeply personal and challenging experience for both men and women.
Not all treatment for cancer will cause hair loss and most hair loss is not permanent. Ask your doctor if your treatment typically causes hair loss, and if so, when to expect it. You are most likely to lose hair on your head, eyebrows, and eyelashes. While hair loss can happen all over your body, it is less common in the pubic area and hair on the face. In most cases, your hair will begin to grow back after treatment ends. Sometimes the texture and color of new hair may be different when it grows back.
Coping with Hair Loss
Many people who lose their hair choose to use some sort of head covering for comfort and privacy. Many people will choose to get a very short haircut or shave their head before they begin to lose their hair. This is an opportunity to control how the hair loss will occur. You might choose to wear a wig, hat, scarf, or turban.
If you plan to get a wig, try to visit your hairdresser or a wig store before you lose your hair. This allows you to match the wig to your hair color and style. Some people choose one or more wigs in a completely different style and color. Certain insurance companies will supplement or cover the cost of a wig, but you must submit a prescription from your doctor for a “cranial prosthesis” or “hair prosthesis.” Frequently, cancer treatment centers will have wig banks where you can get a refurbished or new wig for free or a small fee.
Cooling Cap Systems
Ask your doctor about prescribing a cooling cap system to prevent hair loss. They can be costly and are not covered by all insurance companies.
Most of all, do whatever feels right to you. The more you prepare for losing your hair, the easier it will be if and when it happens. Nonetheless, when hair loss occurs, it can be upsetting. Be kind to yourself and allow time and space to cope with this loss. Reach out for the support you need.
Tenderness of Scalp
The scalp can become quite tender during the period of active hair loss. Sleeping on a satin pillowcase can be soothing. Use gentle cleansers and lotions on the scalp during this time. Once hair loss occurs, protect your head from the sun by applying sunscreen and wearing a scarf or hat. To stay warm in cold weather, cover your head to prevent loss of body heat.