Alopecia: How to Deal with Hair Loss
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may cause partial hair loss or complete hair loss. However, not all treatments will cause hair loss.
- Hair loss begins two to three weeks after beginning therapy. Re-growth takes three to six months after therapy is complete.
- Hair loss from chemotherapy usually occurs in the following pattern: scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, underarm hair, and pubic hair.
- Hair loss from radiation depends on the area being treated.
How can I manage my hair loss?
There are some things you can do to lessen the distress of losing your hair.
- Consider cutting long hair short to avoid dramatic loss while showering or sleeping.
- You may want to sleep with a shower cap on at night two weeks after getting chemotherapy to catch hair which is falling out.
- Avoid harsh chemical treatments, perms, and straighteners while getting chemotherapy, as they cause increased breakage.
- Many insurances will pay for a wig prosthesis with a physician prescription. Scarves, hats, wigs are available at The Positive Image Centersm at City of Hope.
- It is easier to match your own hair style before losing your hair; so shop early for a wig.
- Your hair not only keeps you warm but also covers your head to prevent sunburn. Wear sun-screen, hats or scarves when out in the sun and in cold weather
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes against dust /particles until your eyelashes re-grow.
- Consider joining a support group to share your feelings about hair loss. The Sheri and Les Biller Patient Family Resource Center has several support groups you might be interested in attending.
Questions to ask your health care team about hair loss
- Is treatment likely to cause my hair to fall out?
- How should I protect and care for my head? Are there products that you recommend? Ones I should avoid?
- Where can I get a wig or hairpiece?
- What support groups could I meet with that might help?
- When will my hair grow back?
We have several resources available to you
- If you are a City of Hope patient or caregiver, you can find helpful information, education and support in the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, including support groups, education classes, music therapy, art therapy and more.
- Visit the Supportive Services Events Calendar for class descriptions, dates and to reserve your spots.
- There are many programs such as the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better” and City of Hope’s Positive Image Centersm, which can help you with make-up tips and ways to minimize the changes from eyebrow /eyelash loss.
(Source: American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute: Memory or Concentration Problems and Cancer Treatment, and the Department of Supportive Care Medicine)