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Hair Loss and Chemotherapy: What to Expect

As a common side effect of chemotherapy, hair loss is never easy to endure. However, knowing what to expect during treatment can help smooth the transition into and out of hair loss caused by chemotherapy.

How chemotherapy affects your hair

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy aim to quickly destroy rapidly dividing cancer cells or delay their growth.

As the drugs do this to the cancer cells, they also destroy other healthy cells that divide rapidly, which includes the cells in hair follicles that help hair grow. This leads to hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body, such as the arms, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

Different doses of cancer medications have different affects on hair, from thinning and dulling, to complete baldness.

When to expect hair loss

Hair loss typically begins about two to three weeks after the first course of chemotherapy. While some people lose their hair in large quantities immediately, others lose their hair more gradually. Hair starts to regrow immediately for some people but could take about three to six months after chemotherapy treatment ends.

Be aware that when your hair grows back, it may look a bit different in color or texture.

How to deal with hair loss during chemo

Hair loss cannot be prevented, but it can be managed with some simple hair care.

During chemotherapy, care for your hair with a gentle, mild shampoo and do not wash it too often. Avoid overexposure to the sun and skip color treatments and use low temperature settings for hair dryers.

Some people prefer to cut their hair short or shave it before chemotherapy to smooth the transition from having hair to losing it. Consider your options for head coverings if you choose to wear something, such as wigs or scarves. After hair loss occurs, be sure to protect your scalp when going out in hot or cold weather.

While there is no current cure for hair loss caused by chemotherapy, you should consider a custom hair system from Hair by Janet to help you get through your treatments with confidence. Give us a call at 650-592-3691 today to learn more about your options or to schedule a consultation.

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