Often times individuals believe that cancer causes hair loss. However, cancer actually does not cause hair loss of the scalp. There are several underlying reasons that an individual may lose their hair during their cancer treatment, and we will discuss them below.
Cancer treatment is typically why a man or woman will lose their hair, not cancer itself. The loss of hair an individual tends to lose is referred to as alopecia. It can also be known as male/female pattern baldness and is due to chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer therapy treatments. These treatments are done to try and minimize the spread of the cancer cells to the infected area and also other parts of the body. As a result, hair cells can suffer damage and end up falling out.
The drugs taken by cancer patients can be held responsible for hair loss. However, it is not true that every cancer patient will experience hair loss to some degree. It depends on the individual, the treatment given, and how your body responds to the medications.
If you do lose your hair, it could be a different amount than another cancer patient. Hair loss varies from person to person.
Luckily, most hair loss due to cancer treatments is temporary. Most individuals see new hair growth several months down the road following recovery. We will go into some ways that you can manage your hair loss below.
What Causes Hair Loss?
Hair loss usually stems from chemotherapy treatment and the drugs taken to treat your form of cancer. There are certain drugs that are more likely to kill off the hair follicles than others, so it is best that you consult with your doctor so that you know ahead of time. Here are a few of the drugs that can leave you at a higher risk of hair loss.
- Altretamine and more
How You Can Be Prepared
It is important, as mentioned earlier, to discuss with your doctor the side effects of your cancer treatment and medications. This way you can be prepared for what will likely happen throughout your treatment therapy.
Most hair will begin to fall out within several weeks of beginning your treatment and can continue to fall out for the next several months. Keep in mind that depending on your medication and how your body responds will determine your degree of hair loss.
Be prepared for new hair to grow! Most times hair loss is not permanent, so keep a positive attitude and remain optimistic for new hair growth soon.
How to Prevent Hair Loss
Although there is no way to completely eliminate the fact that you may lose your hair, there are ways to reduce its severity during your treatment. Below is a list of options you can try:
- Wash your hair gently and less often.
- Let your hair air dry versus drying with a towel.
- Choose a shampoo that is gentle and fragrance-free, if not a baby shampoo.
- Use a soft brush or a comb when combing through your hair. Be gentle when doing this.
- Do not use chemical products for styling your hair.
- Avoid coloring your hair.
- Use a silk or satin pillowcase when you sleep rather than sleeping on one made of cotton.
- Do not use curlers, blow driers, and flat irons for your hair.
- There is always the option of purchasing a wig.
- Wear a hat or scarf over your head.
How Can You Regain Hair Loss?
Unfortunately, there have been no breakthroughs with scientists or medical professionals coming up with a way to bypass hair loss during treatments. Hopefully, this will happen soon.
There are options available that you can use to regain your lost hair due to your treatment. You can use a laser cap for hair loss. These FDA-cleared medical devices are clinically proven to be safe and healthy to use. The caps use low-level light therapy (LLLT) that penetrates the scalp tissue to increase blood flow. Increased blood flow allows nutrients and oxygen to reach the deprived hair follicles, encouraging new and healthy hair growth. This treatment is convenient and pain-free!
There are also topical treatments available such as Rogaine and Minoxidil that can be used. These medications can be purchased through your personal pharmacy and can help get your hair growing again.
Cancer treatment therapy and hair loss are usually intertwined. However, not the form of every individual experience of hair loss during their treatment, so you might not be one either! You can use these tips listed in this article to prevent and regain your hair loss before and after your treatment has subsided.
Always remember to consult with your physician before making any decisions. They will know what is best for you and your body.