Talking With Your Health Care Team About Hair Loss
Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:
- 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?
Skin Cancer In Cats Diagnosis
If your veterinarian suspects skin cancer, they will want to take a sample of the area, so that it can be examined under a microscope. This can be done by collecting some cells with a needle and syringe, called a fine needle aspiration /needle biopsy.
Sometimes, an FNA doesnt provide enough information and your vet may recommend sedating or anesthetizing your cat to cut more of the tumour away.
These samples are then sent to a lab for analysis Your vet may also want to take samples from your cats lymph nodes and take some x-rays , to see if the cancer has spread. Blood work is also useful to determine if there is any damage to your cats insides and to help choose the best treatment plan.
When Hair Is Falling Out:
- Consider getting a shorter hair cut. Shorter hair is easier to manage under a wig. A shorter style will make your hair look thicker and fuller because it does not lay as flat against the head. It may also make your hair loss less upsetting.
- Some people choose to shave their head once hair starts falling out. If so, do not use a razor. A razor may cause nicks and cuts, which may lead to infection.
- Wear a hair net, soft cap or turban around your head at night to collect any loose hair.
- Be aware that during the period of time you lose hair, the scalp may be tender or sensitive. Some people tell of having a tingling feeling of the scalp during hair loss.
- If the eyebrows start to thin, try using a clear or colored brow gel. These can be found at any discount or department store. A brow pencil can also be used to fill in gaps. Another option is to use eyeglasses with heavy colored frames. You can find these with or without a prescription.
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Tips For Possible Complete Hair Loss
- Ask about a wig before you start treatment, so you can match the colour and texture of your real hair.
- If you are feeling adventurous, choose a wig for a whole new look why not try the colour and style youve always wanted!
- Think about having your hair gradually cut short before your treatment starts this might help you get used to seeing yourself with less hair.
- Some people shave their hair off completely to avoid the distress of seeing their hair fall out.
- Wear a hair net at night so you wont wake up with hair all over your pillow, which can be upsetting.
- Keep your head warm in cooler weather some people wear a soft hat in bed.
- Rub in oil or moisturiser if your scalp feels dry and itchy, try unperfumed products such as Epaderm, Hydromol or Doublebase.
- Try a moisturising liquid instead of soap if your scalp is dry, for example aqueous cream, Oilatum or Diprobase.
- Protect your scalp by covering your head in the sun your scalp is particularly sensitive to the sun.
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What Illness Causes Hairloss
Medical conditions that can cause hair loss include: thyroid disease. alopecia areata scalp infections like ringworm.Hair loss can also be due to medications used to treat:
- Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere.
- Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
- Obvious change in a wart or mole.
- Nagging cough or hoarseness.
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Is Radiation Contributing To My Hair Loss Too
Some people receive both radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and both can contribute to hair loss. Radiation affects hair only on the body area that is treated. This may mean the hair on that area is lost, but not the hair on your scalp . At lower doses, radiation hair loss is temporary, but at higher doses it can be permanent.
Know The Signs Of Thyroid Conditions
Known as hyperthyroidism, this condition causes your metabolism to speed up. When this happens you may experience:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Rapid heartbeat
- Muscle weakness
On the other hand, hypothyroidism occurs when your body doesnt produce enough thyroid hormone, causing your metabolism to slow down. When this happens you may experience:
- Trouble with concentration and memory
Some goiters are diffuse, which means the entire thyroid gland is enlarged. In other cases, goiters are nodular or the thyroid has bumps in it. In most cases, lumps or bumps in the thyroid gland, known as thyroid nodules, are benign. In fact, thyroid nodules are cancerous in fewer than 10 percent of cases.
There are other reasons why your thyroid gland might be larger than usual, such as an imbalance or changes in hormone levels from not getting enough iodine in your diet. Although the thyroid gland can also develop tumors, most of the time the cause isnt cancer.
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After Skin Cancer Treatment
Most skin cancer is cured surgically in the dermatologists office. Of skin cancers that do recur, most do so within three years. Therefore, follow up with your dermatologist as recommended. Make an appointment immediately if you suspect a problem.
If you have advanced malignant melanoma, your oncologist may want to see you every few months. These visits may include total body skin exams, regional lymph node checks, and periodic chest X-rays and body scans. Over time, the intervals between follow-up appointments will increase. Eventually these checks may be done only once a year.
When Not To Use Scalp Cooling
Scalp cooling is not suitable for use in all types of cancer or situations. You wont normally have scalp cooling if there is too high a risk that there might be cancer cells in your scalp blood vessels. This is because the cells in the scalp blood vessels might survive the treatment.
Scalp cooling is not recommended in people:
- with blood cancers such as leukaemia and lymphoma
- whose cancer has spread to the scalp
- who are due to have radiotherapy to their scalp
You would not have scalp cooling with continuous chemotherapy through a pump or with chemotherapy tablets. This is because you would have to wear the cold cap for 24 hours a day.
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Does All Radiation Therapy Cause Hair Loss
Radiation therapy will generally cause hair loss to the body part that is being treated. For example, if your arm were treated with radiation, you may lose any hair on your arm, but the hair on your head would not be affected. The degree of hair loss will depend on several factors, including the size of the area being treated and the total dose of radiation being given. Hair loss is greatest within the treatment field, but may also occur in the area where the radiation beam exits the body.
Chemotherapy drugs also can cause hair loss. If you are also receiving chemotherapy, you should discuss whether or not the medications you are receiving may cause hair loss. When hair loss is caused by chemotherapy, it will include all the hair on your body . Learn more about hair loss caused by chemotherapy.
What Are My Options
There are many ways to cover up hair loss. Hats, scarves and turbans are popular options for men and women.
- hats – there are many styles to choose from
- scarves – versatile with many colour and fabric options, lightweight materials such as cotton are best
- turbans – easy to wear and widely available
- wigs – you can continue with a familiar style or try something new
Some hats, headbands or bandanas have optional fringe or hair attachments. If you still have some hair, changing your hairstyle can help cover up hair loss. Specialist hairdressers like mynewhair can offer advice.
In certain situations surgery to replace hair might be an option if your hair loss is permanent. This treatment is not available through the NHS.
You may not want to wear anything on your head. Accessories, clothing and makeup can express your style and draw attention away from hair loss.
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How To Prevent Hair Loss When Receiving Chemotherapy
While healthcare providers urge patients to focus on the most important issue getting better there are some things that could help to minimize hair loss during treatment.
Hair often falls out in greater volume during brushing or shampooing. Gently washing your hair less frequently than usual and combing with a wide-tooth comb may prevent added damage to the hair follicles and keep some hair from falling out.
While patients may want to style their hair to feel better about their appearance during treatment, doing so could cause more hair loss. Using heat styling tools like curling irons, flat irons, and blow dryers and securing hair into ponytails, braids, or buns with elastic hair ties or clips can all add to the stress on already-fragile strands.
Some people have used cryotherapy to try to minimize the effect of anti-cancer drugs on hair. Cryotherapy, or using extreme cold for medical purposes, involves applying ice packs or other cold cap device to the scalp to slow blood flow to the area. There is only one device currently approved by the FDA for this use and clinical trials are still underway to determine effectiveness and safety. You can learn more about the caps here. Make sure to discuss this treatment with your doctor before trying it.
Prescription hair loss treatments are largely ineffective at preventing cancer-related hair loss. When you end cancer treatment, you can explore hair growth treatments to help your hair grow back quickly.
For Caregivers: Helping Your Loved One Experiencing Hair Loss
Listen to and validate their feelings. Hair loss can elicit strong expressions of emotion as it signals a change in appearance that may impact self-esteem. In many cultures, hair can provide an exceptionally powerful sense of personal identity.
Provide space for your loved one to process their feelings in ways that feel appropriate to them. Being present and listening can be powerful and help people with cancer feel supported.
Provide practical support. If your loved one is interested in a wig or a similar alternative, offer to help them find a local wig clinic in your community. As hair loss can leave the scalp vulnerable to sunburn and treatment can cause skin to be more sensitive to the sun, you can help your loved one find the proper sunscreen and skin care products. Talk to your loved ones health care team about local resources.
Establish new routines and maintain existing connections. Physical changes can make your loved one self-conscious, and hair loss can serve as an external marker of ones diagnosis and treatment experience. Ask your loved one what social situations they would feel most supported in. Consider engaging close friends and family in spaces of mutual comfort soon after hair loss occurs, as it can take loved ones time to adjust to physical changes as well.
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Eyebrows Eyelashes And Make
With some chemotherapies, people might also lose their eyebrows and eyelashes. Make-up, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner or false eyelashes can help, and many cancer support groups have workshops to help patients learn these techniques.
For example, the charity Look Good Feel Better holds free skincare and make-up workshops and masterclasses across the UK for women undergoing treatment for cancer.
Who Should Be Tested
If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, ask your doctor if you should be tested. People with symptoms or risk factors may need tests more often. Hypothyroidism more frequently affects women over age 60. Hyperthyroidism is also more common in women. A family history raises your risk of either disorder.
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Treating Cancer Treatment Hair Loss
The good news is that, generally speaking, telogen effluvium corrects itself.
Essentially, when the stressor is stopped, the follicles in telogen effluvium will gradually return to the anagen phase as theyre ready and no longer inhibited.
Of course, as long as your cancer is active, your first priority should be treating it, and so as much as you may not want to lose your hair, chemo is almost certainly a necessary evil.
But there are other things you can do during and after treatment to help the problem.
During the treatment, the most important thing you can do is simply take care of yourself.
Reduce additional stressors physical and psychological from your life. Take it easy, and do things that are good for your body.
Eat well seriously. Evidence suggests that alopecia during chemotherapy may be exacerbated by poor nutritional health.
As exhausting as it may be, taking care of your health during this most taxing period makes it all the more important that you follow through.
After the chemo has concluded, the story is different. Your hair will begin to return to normal on its own, but helping it along is an option.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, two products in particular can help you reduce and potentially reverse hair loss: finasteride and minoxidil. They work slightly differently, and complement each other well in most cases.
Weve talked more about DHTs role in hair loss in our guide to DHT and male hair loss.
Can I Prevent Hair Loss From Chemo
While hair loss may depend on the chemotherapy drug used and how the treatment is given, these choices are appropriately made to be the most effective against the type of cancer being treated.
One preventive measure is the use of scalp cooling. This can be done with ice packs, cooling caps, or scalp cooling systems used before, during, or after treatment. This causes the capillaries supplying the hair follicles to constrict, so they are exposed to less of the chemotherapy medication.
The effectiveness of scalp cooling is still being studied, but devices have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It seems to work best for taxane-based chemotherapy.
Using Rogaine has not been shown to prevent hair loss, but it may reduce the severity or shorten the time it takes to regrow the hair .
Being gentle with your hair and scalp can help reduce hair loss and breakage, as well as prevent scalp irritation. Follow these tips:
- Do not shampoo frequently.
- Use warm water to clean your scalp, and pat dry rather than rubbing.
- Use mild shampoos and conditioners that do not have perfumes. Avoid any hair products such as hair spray, gels, or oils.
- Be gentle and keep combing or brushing to a minimum.
- If you must use a hairdryer, use a low heat setting. Don’t use a curling iron.
- Avoid using brush rollers to curl or set hair, as well as any style where you pull the hair back with ponytail holders or hairbands.
- Dont dye your hair or get a perm.
- Try sleeping on a satin pillowcase.
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