Scalp Cooling Caps Might Help Prevent Hair Loss
Wearing a scalp cooling cap during chemotherapy infusions might help prevent hair loss. These caps are thought to slow the flow of blood to your scalp. This may limit the amount of chemotherapy drug that reaches your scalp, reducing its effects on your hair follicles.
According to a review published in the International Journal of Cancer, scalp cooling caps reduce the risk of hair loss in people undergoing chemotherapy. This study found that other treatments, including the use of minoxidil , were not effective.
Some people develop headaches while wearing scalp cooling caps or find them uncomfortable to wear. Some studies have suggested that these caps might increase the risk that cancer will develop in the scalp later on, but a recent
Does Chemotherapy Always Cause Hair Loss
“The Healthy Geezer” answers questions about health and aging in his weekly column.
Question: I may have to have chemotherapy. Will I go bald?
Answer: Hair loss is not certain with chemotherapy. Whether you lose hair depends upon the medication and dose your doctor prescribes.
Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that uses drugs to kill malignant cells, bacteria, viruses and fungi. Chemotherapy drugs are used to treat cancer, bone marrow diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. The drugs can be given by injection or taken orally. There are also topical creams.
Chemotherapy drugs attack rapidly growing cancer cells. They also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body such as those in your hair roots. Each patient reacts differently to these drugs. Some newer chemotherapy drugs may cause fewer side effects.
Hair loss from chemotherapy is not confined to your head. It can affect hair all over your body. In most cases, hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary. Patients usually regrow hair 3 to 10 months after treatment.
Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. These cycles may last one day, several days, a week or more. There will usually be a rest period between each cycle. A rest period may last for days, weeks, or months. Different chemotherapy drugs may be given simultaneously or in sequence.
Hair loss is just one possible side effects of chemotherapy. Others include:
- Mouth sores
- Reduced immunity
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Who May Not Be A Good Candidate For Oral Chemotherapy
Not everyone is a good candidate for oral chemotherapy. If you know youll struggle to take your medication correctly, for example, avoid oral therapy and choose another treatment option.
Patients who are experiencing nausea, vomiting and/or who have difficulty swallowing are going to have a difficult time physically taking oral medications.
Some drug interactions may prohibit you from taking oral chemotherapy because certain drugs increase or decrease the absorption of other drugs. That could lead to toxicities, or it could cause the chemotherapy to not have as good of a result as it should.
If oral chemotherapy isnt a good option for you, but you have serious obstacles getting to an infusion center, ask your doctor about alternatives. For example, our CTCA Atlanta hospital is piloting our Oncology Clinic at Home program. This program allows certain patients who qualify to receive some chemotherapy or immunotherapy infusions or injections at home. Treatment is administered by licensed nurses who are trained in chemotherapy administration.
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Is It Possible To Prevent Hair Loss
Scientists have tested different drugs to see if they could prevent hair loss in people who are treated for cancer. So far, there are no treatments approved for use in the UK to prevent hair loss.
You might have heard of something called cold capping or scalp cooling, where you wear a hat filled with a cold gel or liquid while you have your chemotherapy. Cold capping reduces the flow of blood carrying chemotherapy to your hair. Although it can reduce hair loss, it is not recommended for people with lymphoma or other cancers affecting blood cells. This is because you could have lymphoma cells in the blood vessels of your scalp. If you wear a cold cap, the cells are more likely to survive chemotherapy, making the treatment less effective.
Dealing With Cancer Therapy Hair Loss
Hair loss can be one of the most difficult side effects of cancer treatments to deal with for both women and men. Talk with your doctor or nurse about your treatment plan and whether it may cause hair loss.
Hair loss occurs because many cancer treatments affect cancer cells and normal cells. This includes the cells that make hair grow.
Hair loss from cancer treatment is most often not permanent. Hair loss may affect all the hair on your body. Hair grows back once therapy has been completed. The amount of hair loss depends on the cancer treatment, the dose of treatment, and how it is given. If your treatment affects the hair, your hair may start falling out between seven to 21 days after you start your treatment.
In radiation, only hair that is in the area of radiation will be affected by hair loss. Only if radiation is given to the head will one lose hair on the head. Radiation given to other parts of the body will not cause hair on the head to fall out. Very rarely with radiation there might be an area where the hair is permanently thinner.
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Can I Apply Cold Caps To My Scalp To Decrease Hair Loss
Discuss this option with your healthcare provider. Small studies have shown that products marketed as “cold caps” can reduce or prevent hair loss from chemotherapy in some patients. These work by decreasing the blood flow to the scalp, preventing the chemotherapy from affecting the hair follicles . Some practitioners are concerned that this may also prevent the chemotherapy from reaching cancer cells that may be in the scalp area.
Chemotherapy Hair Loss Timeline
Hair loss usually doesnt happen immediately after chemotherapy. Instead, it may start after a few treatments.
A study of people with breast cancer treated with chemotherapy found that 99.9% experienced hair loss, beginning at day 18 of treatment, on average. Only 4% still had hair loss after two years.
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Hair Loss Due To Medication: Will It Grow Back
If you have experienced hair loss due to medication, you will most likely grow it back after a few months. But there are exceptions.
Both anagen and telogen effluvium are temporary and reversible conditions.
Hair growth will often reappear about 3 months after you discontinue the medication, although it will take about 12 to 24 months for your hair to return to its original texture and volume.
Only in some cases will hair loss continue after stopping the prescribed drug. For example, if the medication was just a trigger for a genetic hair loss condition or if telogen effluvium became chronic. In these situations, you might continue experiencing shedding and wont see any significant hair regrowth.
Managing Ongoing Hair Thinning
Breast cancer treatments such as hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy can cause some people to have ongoing mild to moderate hair loss. If youre concerned that your hair isnt growing back or is noticeably thinner than in the past, its a good idea to see a dermatologist. If possible, seek out one who specializes in hair loss or an onco-dermatologist who focuses on problems with the hair, skin, and nails that can develop during cancer treatment. The dermatologist will order blood tests to check whether there are other reasons for your hair loss besides the effects of breast cancer treatments. Thyroid problems, nutritional deficiencies, and other factors can play a role in hair loss.
For mild to moderate hair loss, dermatologists often recommend Rogaine , an over-the-counter medication that promotes hair growth. Its safe for people with a history of breast cancer and moderately effective. But check with your oncologist before you start using minoxidil. In most cases, you can use it while you take hormonal therapy or targeted therapy, but not during chemotherapy treatment. Look for products labeled 5% minoxidil foam that you apply to your scalp when your hair and scalp are dry. Its ok for women to use minoxidil products labeled for men. Minoxidil is thought to stimulate hair growth by, among other things, improving blood flow in the scalp and prolonging the growth phase of each hair follicle.
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How To Treat Medication
Most of the time, any hair you lose from medication will grow back once you stop actively taking the causative medication.
If youre prescribed medication, its important that you dont stop taking it without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping medication suddenly may worsen your medical condition or cause you to experience side effects.
This is particularly important if youre prescribed medication for a life-threatening health issue, such as cancer, heart disease or severe depression.
If you notice hair loss after starting a specific medication, reach out to your healthcare provider to let them know. Depending on your health and the extent to your hair loss, they may suggest adjusting your dosage or using a different medication thats less likely to cause hair loss.
In some cases, you may not be able to adjust your dosage or stop using your medication until you reach the end of your treatment period.
Drugs And Alopecia: What Relationship Exists
The hair loss is a fairly common side effect of many drugs. In most cases the drugs only cause temporary hair loss and the lost hair is recovered after changing the dosage of intake or after the total suspension of the same.
Medications are able to damage hair follicles by interrupting their life cycle in different phases.
There are two different forms of fall.
One is the telogen effluvium, in simple terms a fall of temporary type that occurs in the resting phase of the follicle,
The other type of fall often caused by drugs is the anagen effluvium. This is a longer term droop and often involves miniaturization or dropping of body hair as well, including eyelashes and eyebrows. Anagen effluvium occurs during the hair regrowth phase of hair growth
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How Do Drugs Cause Hair Loss
Drugs cause hair loss by interfering with the normal cycle of scalp hair growth. During the anagen phase, which lasts for two to seven years, the hair grows. During the telogen phase, which lasts about three months, the hair rests. At the end of the telogen phase, the hair falls out and is replaced by new hair.
Medications can lead to two types of hair loss: telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium. Learn more about other causes of baldness.
Telogen effluvium is the most common form of drug-induced hair loss. It usually appears within 2 to 4 months after taking the drug. This condition causes the hair follicles to go into their resting phase and fall out too early. People with telogen effluvium usually shed between 30% to 70% more than the normal 100 and 150 hairs a day.
Anagen effluvium is hair loss that occurs during the anagen phase of the hair cycle, when the hairs are actively growing. It prevents the matrix cells, which produce new hairs, from dividing normally. This type of hair loss usually occurs within a few days to weeks after taking the medication. It’s most common in people who are taking chemotherapy drugs for cancer and is often severe, causing people to lose most or all of the hair on their head, as well as their eyebrows, eyelashes, and other body hairs.
The severity of drug-induced hair loss depends on the type of drug and dosage, as well as your sensitivity to that drug.
Hair Regrowth After Chemo
For most people, chemo-related hair loss is temporary. After chemo stops and your follicles are healthy, your hair should start to grow back. Look for regrowth to start within 3-6 months from your last treatment. You may even see a bit of regrowth while youâre still in treatment.
If you choose to wear a scarf or wig, you can continue to do so for as long as you want — it wonât damage or stunt your new hair.
New hair needs lots of TLC. It may show up in patches, or even with a different color or texture than it did before.
Donât color, bleach, perm, or straighten it: Much like the rest of your body, itâs best if you give it a chance to grow healthy and strong.
Mayo Clinic: âChemotherapy and hair loss: What to expect during treatment.â
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center: âChemotherapy and Hair Loss — Planning Ahead,â âUnderstanding Chemotherapy and Hair Loss.â
National Cancer Institute: âNCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms: Hair follicle.â
Breastcancer.org: âWhy and How Hair Loss Happens.â
American Cancer Society: âCoping With Hair Loss.â
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Why Do Skin Changes Occur
Skin changes are caused by the way some targeted therapy drugs work. For instance, some targeted drugs attack the epidermal growth factor receptor protein, which tells the cancer cells to grow and divide. These are called EGFR inhibitors, and examples are cetuximab , panitumumab , and erlotinib . The problem is that normal skin cells also have a lot of EGFR, so drugs that target or block EGFR can affect skin cells, too. They turn off the signal for skin cells to grow normally and make it harder for them to retain moisture.
Drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors often target vascular endothelial growth factor proteins. Bevacizumab is one of these drugs. The VEGF proteins help tumors build and keep a blood supply, but they also seem to be important to the very small blood vessels in the hands and feet. Blocking these proteins leads to damage in these tiny blood vessels which can cause hand-foot syndrome .
Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Your Hair To Fall Out
Chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cells, so they damage some healthy cells as well as cancer cells. The healthy cells damaged include the cells in the hair follicles, which is why chemotherapy can make your hair fall out. As well as the hair on your head, this can also affect your body hair including eyebrows, eyelashes and pubic hair, and chest hair for men
Not all chemotherapy will make your hair fall out. Some drugs dont cause any hair loss, some cause hair to thin, while others make hair fall out completely. How much hair you lose will depend on the type of drugs you are given and the dose. Drugs that are given in smaller doses on a weekly basis or are taken by mouth are less likely to cause hair loss. If you are receiving a combination of chemotherapy drugs you are more likely to have hair loss. Your specialist or your chemotherapy nurse will talk to you about your treatment and how likely you are to lose your hair.
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