Hair Loss: Cancer And Chemotherapy Aside from the worry and fear that comes with a cancer diagnosis, one of the most troubling side effects for many patients, particularly female ones, is the hair loss that results from chemotherapy. A great way to cope with this frustrating fact of life is to understand the process and learn the best ways to manage the situation successfully. Keep reading to learn more.
Because women often view their hair as a true expression of themselves and their personal style, hair loss that comes with chemotherapy treatments can be especially devastating. A patient’s sense of identity can be stripped away as the strands start to fall, making the entire cancer journey that much more difficult.
The point of chemotherapy is to kill off cells that grow in rapid fashion. Because follicular cells are of the sort that divide quickly, they are impacted by chemotherapy in much the same way that cancer cells are. This is what causes characteristic hair loss in many, but not all, cancer patients.
Roughly 10 days to two weeks after the commencement of chemotherapy treatments, hair loss will begin in many instances. A patient’s hair may begin to gradually thin or drop off in clumps. Eyelashes, body hair and eyebrows may also be lost in this manner. It is important to keep in mind that this sort of hair loss is typically not of a permanent nature, and that regrowth is likely to begin somewhere between four and six weeks following the end of chemotherapy treatments.
If hair loss is causing a great deal of stress and sadness, there are things that can be done to ameliorate the impact. Proper care of hair during and following chemotherapy treatments can go a long way towards slowing the process of hair loss and making regrowth more certain. Having long hair cut into a shorter look can alleviate the weight on the roots of the hair, helping it stay in place longer. This can also make donning wigs a bit easier in the event that becomes necessary or desired.
Mild shampoos are also recommended during this time, as they are much gentler to the scalp and follicles. Hair should be brushed in a gentle fashion with a very soft brush or a wide comb. It is important not to wash hair on a daily basis, as that can foster additional loss. Ponytails and other accessories that pull at the hair should be avoided entirely.
If hair loss is simply an inevitable consequence of treatment, there are several techniques that really can make the process more bearable. Working to steer attention away from the hair toward something else of visual interest such as colorful clothing or jewelry is a terrific strategy. Furthermore, being straightforward and honest about the situation can make both the patient and those around them much more comfortable and accepting of the situation.
The truth is that chemotherapy is a powerful tool in the battle against cancer and the hair loss that can result should be viewed as a positive thing. The temporary damage done to follicular cells is a sign that more permanent harm is being done to the cancer, and should therefore be welcomed with open arms.