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Can Radiation Treatment Cause Hair Loss

To Avoid Making Hair Fall Out Faster:

Hair Loss In Radiation Therapy – Dr. Afshin Forouzannia
  • Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner to lessen the pull on hair while combing. Try to stay away from shampoos with lots of chemicals that can dry out your scalp. Avoid shampoos and conditioners with strong fragrances, alcohol or salicylic acid.
  • Using or sleeping in hair curlers can pull on the hair and cause it to fall out quicker.
  • Try to avoid coloring, bleaching or perming your hair at this point–it could weaken it and make it fall out faster.
  • Lower your use of hair dryers, straightening irons and curling irons. Try air-drying your hair.

Hair Care Before Radiation Therapy

Patients may notice their hair becoming thin and more delicate as they begin the radiation treatment. This is normal as the hair structure weakens and falls from the scalp, but it can cause quite a mess if the hair is not cared for properly during this process. Many people decide to cut their hair as short as possible to minimize clean-up or tangling to prepare for hair loss. If a patient expects total hair loss, they should preemptively take wig measurements or search for comfortable head coverings. These things are not necessary, but they can help people experiencing hair loss feel confident and protect their scalps while undergoing treatment. Before the expected hair loss, experts at Allusions can match the patients remaining hair to a beautiful wig so they can keep their natural look.

How To Prepare For Hair Loss

  • Each person is different. Ask your health care team if hair loss is likely to happen. If it is, ask if it will happen quickly or gradually.
  • If you are going to get chemotherapy that might cause hair loss, talk to your health care team about whether a cooling cap might help reduce your risk. More research is being done to understand how effective and safe cooling caps may be. There are some side effects of cooling caps to consider, such as headaches, scalp pain, and neck and shoulder discomfort. Talk to your health care team about the benefits, limitations, and side effects of cooling caps.
  • If the thought of losing your hair bothers you, you might choose to cut your hair very short or even shave your head before it starts falling out.
  • If you think you might want a wig, buy it before treatment begins or at the very start of treatment. Ask if the wig can be adjusted you might need a smaller wig as you lose hair. To match hair color, you can cut a swatch of hair from the top front of your head, where hair is lightest..
  • Wigs and other scalp coverings may be partially or fully covered by your health insurance. If so, ask for a prescription for a cranial prosthesis. Do not use the word wig on the prescription.
  • Get a list of wig shops in your area from your cancer team, other patients, or from the phone book. You can also order the American Cancer Societys tlc Tender Loving Care® catalog by visiting tlc or by calling 1-800-850-9445.

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Chemotherapy And Radiation: Why Should I Stop Coloring My Hair During Treatment

Isabel Calleros explains why you should stop coloring your hair during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Isabel Calleros:During the time that you are going through radiation or chemotherapy its recommended, strongly recommended that you dont add more chemicals to your body, okay?

Now theres no proven fact that bleaching the hair penetrates into the skin or dyes penetrate into the skin, but why take the risk?

Dyes usually contain aniline derivative tints which are strong chemical. The pH of those chemicals are a lot stronger than what our natural skin and hair are accustomed to, and unfortunately we are going to lose some of our hair or all of our hair, so why add to the problem?

Will Side Effects Limit My Activities

Radiation Therapy Hair Loss

Not necessarily, says Yale Medicine radiation oncologist Lynn Wilson, MD, who is the chair of Therapeutic Radiology and a professor of therapeutic radiology at Yale School of Medicine. It will depend on what side effects you experienceand how severe they are. Many patients are able to go to work, keep house, and enjoy leisure activities while they are receiving radiation therapy. Others find that they need more rest than usual and therefore cannot do as much. You should try to do the things you enjoy, as long as you don’t become too tired. Your doctor may suggest that you limit activities that might irritate the area being treated. In most cases, you can have sexual relations if you wish. However, your desire for physical intimacy may be lower because radiation therapy may cause you to feel more tired than usual.

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What To Do If You Lose Hair

These tips can help you protect your head, minimize hair loss, and manage stress:

Shield your scalp. Put broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF on any bald spots. On cold days, protect your scalp from dry air with a hat or scarf.

Groom gently. Your scalp might be extra sensitive to combing, bushing, and washing. Consider using a brush with soft bristles or a wide-toothed comb. Donât brush too much or pull your hair back in tight styles like braids or ponytails. Skip blow dryers, rollers, and curling or flat irons, too. Use a mild shampoo when you wash your hair, and then pat dry. Try to wash your hair less often than you used to.

Wear a hair net in bed. If you decide not to cut or shave your hair off, the net can keep it from falling out in clumps while you sleep. A satin pillowcase may help, too.

Get support if you need it. Hair is very personal to many people. Donât bottle your feelings up. Confide in close friends or loved ones. You can also talk with a cancer support group. Itâs a good way to meet people whoâve also lost hair during treatment and who understand what youâre going through.

Tips To Help You Prepare For Losing Your Hair

If its likely you will lose your hair during cancer treatment, there are ways you can prepare:

  • eat a well-balanced diet before treatment starts to help your body cope better
  • talk to friends and family about losing your hair
  • buy a hat or other headwear to protect your head
  • talk to other people who have hair loss to share tips on how to cope
  • if you decide to wear a wig, buy one before treatment starts. It will be easier to match it to your colour and style, and you can get used to wearing it
  • buy products to help you cope with losing your eyebrows and eyelashes
  • you could also consider cutting your hair short:
  • you may find it easier to cut it in stages
  • dont use a blade to shave your head
  • its best to cut clean dry hair
  • you could ask a salon that specialises in styling people affected by cancer to cut your hair

Read Also: How To Stop Hair Loss During Chemo

What To Expect After Treatment

The hair on your head will most likely start growing back 2 to 3 months after you finish chemo. It might be curlier, straighter, or a different color than it was before. Over time, its original texture and shade may return. Donât perm or dye it for a few months because it may be more breakable when it starts to grow back.

Hair in your pubic area tends to regrow about a month after you finish radiation for prostate cancer. This hair may also look different than it did before treatment. For some men, it doesnât grow back.

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What Cancer Medicines Cause Hair Loss

Brain radiation treatment… dealing with hair loss

Hair loss is a common side effect of some cancer medicines including certain chemotherapy and targeted therapy drugs. The likelihood and severity of hair loss is different for each medicine. Families should talk with their doctor or pharmacist to understand the risk of hair loss for the specific drug regimen prescribed.

Medicines with High Risk of Hair Loss Medicines with Moderate Risk of Hair Loss

Visit the List of Medicines to view possible side effects for different drugs.

The risk of hair loss during chemotherapy depends on factors such as:

  • Dose of chemotherapy Higher doses of chemotherapy increase risk of hair loss.
  • Method or route of administration IV chemotherapy can have greater risk compared to medicines taken by mouth.
  • Frequency of chemotherapy Patients who get chemo every 2-3 weeks may have more hair loss than with a weekly chemotherapy regimen.
  • Whether chemotherapy is given as a single drug or in combination Combination chemotherapy often increases risk of hair loss.
  • Other factors that may increase the risk of hair loss during chemotherapy include
  • Previous treatment with chemotherapy
  • Graft versus host disease

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How Can I Handle Fatigue

The fatigue you feel from cancer and radiation therapy is different from other times you may have felt tired. Itâs an exhaustion that doesnât get better with rest and can keep you from doing the things you normally do, like going to work or spending time with family and friends. It also can seem different from day to day, which makes it hard to plan around it. It can even change how well youre able to follow your cancer treatment plan.

Let your doctor know if youâre struggling with fatigue. They might be able to help. There are also things you can do to feel better:

  • Take care of your health. Be sure youre taking your medications the way youre supposed to. Get plenty of rest, be as active as you can, and eat the right foods.
  • Work with a counselor or take a class at your cancer treatment center to learn ways to conserve energy, reduce stress, and keep yourself from focusing on the fatigue.
  • Save your energy for the activities that are most important to you. Tackle them first when youâre feeling up to it.
  • Keep a balance between rest and activities. Too much bed rest can make you more tired. But dont over-schedule your days without giving yourself breaks.
  • Ask for help from family and friends. If fatigue is interfering with your job, talk with your boss or HR department and ask about taking some time off from work or making adjustments in your schedule.

If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast

If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.

Short-term side effects

Radiation to the breast can cause:

  • Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
  • Breast soreness
  • Breast swelling from fluid build-up

To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.

If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.

Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema for more information.

Long-term changes to the breast

Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.

After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.

Less common side effects in nearby areas

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Possible Side Effects Of Radiation Treatment For Prostate Cancer

The radiation used to destroy cancer cells can also hurt normal cells in the nearby area. Side effects from radiation treatment are related to the area of the body being treated. Patients start to have side effects a few weeks into their treatment. While side effects may be unpleasant, there are treatments to help deal with them. Most side effects are temporary and slowly start to go away once treatment is done.

You will be seen by your radiation oncology providers often during treatment. These visits are a chance to ask questions and to talk about any side effects and how to best manage them. You can also call your providers to speak about any side effects.

Does Radiation Cause Hair Loss

Radiation Therapy Hair Loss

Yes, radiation therapy causes hair loss. However, it affects only the body part that is being treated with radiation. If your head and scalp are exposed to radiation , it can affect the hair follicles and cause hair loss while the rest of the body may be unaffected. The degree of hair loss depends on the dose and duration of radiation.

While hair loss is the greatest in the treated area, you may also lose hair in areas where the radiation exits your body. Scroll down to the next section to know how radiation therapy may cause hair loss.

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Emf Radiation And Hair Loss

EMF radiation covers all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. These are broken into ionizing and non-ionizing forms of radiation. Ionizing radiation is radiation thats powerful enough to remove electrons from the outer shell of an atom. This causes it to become ionized.

High frequency forms of radiation have more energy and can therefore ionize atoms. Ionizing EMF radiation is:

  • X-ray
  • Gamma waves

These forms of EMF radiation are well known to cause issues, even from short-term exposure.

Radiation poisoning is a serious medial condition and hair loss is one of the main symptoms because hair follicle cells are quite sensitive to damage.

Lower frequency forms of radiation, such as visible light and radio waves, are known as non-ionizing radiation.

This is because they have less energy and so cant ionize an atom. That said, there are studies that report various links between RF radiation and illness.

In fact, in what seems to be a rare case, a man reported baldness around his left ear, which doctors attributed to cellphone use. But this man used his cellphone for 7 hours a day pressed against the same ear.

The study found there was some damage to the upper layers of the skin from cellphone radiation, but this was easily reversed using a course of antioxidants and vitamins.

Bear in mind, though, the man had been using his cellphone for 7 hours a day for well over a year. Its unlikely that many people make calls on their cellphone for this length of time.


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