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Does All Chemo Cause Hair Loss

Tips For Scalp Cooling

Hair loss from chemotherapy: what is it? who gets it? how do we treat it?

To improve the chances of the cold cap being effective, its important the cap covers the whole scalp and fits snugly. You may find the cap uncomfortable, as its very cold and often quite heavy. Some people get headaches, but these usually wear off quickly once the cap is removed. You dont need to cut your hair short before you start treatment, however if your hair is very long or thick it may be helpful to cut it to reduce some weight and make it more manageable.

So that the cold can reach the scalp the chemotherapy nurses may recommend that the hair underneath the cap is lightly dampened. Before the cap is fitted the hair can be sprayed with lukewarm water. A water spray bottle is ideal for this.

Applying a small amount of conditioner to the dampened hair can help with removing the cold cap at the end of treatment. There is no need to leave the conditioner in your hair unless you feel unable to wash it out.

Before the cap is put on the hair should be gently combed back using a wide tooth comb or your fingers so that the front hairline is visible. This is especially important if you have a fringe.

Being able to tolerate the cold will vary widely from person to person. The intense feeling of discomfort or even aching that is felt in the first 10-15 minutes of the treatment should go away as you get used to the cold. Wearing warm layers, sipping hot drinks and covering yourself with blankets can also help.

How Long Will It Take For My Hair To Fall Out After Starting Chemotherapy

The first signs that you are losing your hair may be finding hair on the pillow in the morning or extra hair in your hairbrush. This can still be a shock and very distressing even when youre prepared for it to happen. Wearing a soft hat or turban in bed to collect loose hairs might help.

Cancer Hair Care has useful information on their website explaining the hair loss and regrowth cycle in more detail.

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How Will Eyelashes Brows & Facial Hair Be Affected

If chemotherapy causes your scalp hair to fall often other body hair can also be affected. Your facial hair, including eyebrows and lashes are also likely to fall out. This is also the case if you are having scalp cooling because scalp cooling only helps to reduce hair loss on the scalp.

Read more in our entire section dedicated to Eyebrows & eyelashes.

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/ Will My Hair Look The Same When It Grows Back

Hair that grows back after chemotherapy often looks different to begin with. The colour may be different to how it was in the past but the texture often changes as well. People who had straight hair before chemo might find they have curly hair and vice versa. Sometimes this is just temporary and you will get your own hair back after a few months to a year. Sometimes the changes are permanent. Hair growth after chemo is a different experience for everyone. Some peoples hair grows back thicker and more difficult to manage, while others find it softer and finer. Other factors can also influence your hair texture, such as hormone therapy for the treatment of breast cancer.

Please note that we have limited ourselves to the most common questions. Our answers are based on hair growth as experienced by the majority of the people after chemotherapy. There are always exceptions to the rule. Do you have any more questions or concerns? Talk to your doctor, your oncology coach or your nurse.

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When Can I Perm Straighten Or Dye My Hair

Does All Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss

Ask your medical team how long you should wait after finishing treatment before you colour, chemically straighten or perm your hair. Traces of chemotherapy in your hair strands could react with the chemicals used in the styling processes.

Natural, temporary dyes might be better than permanent chemical products. If youd like to dye your hair, you could ask your clinical nurse specialist if a vegetable-based hair dye that you wash out is suitable for you. These are milder and less damaging to your hair and scalp than chemical ones.

Whichever treatment type youve had, your new hair might be fragile so you should wait for at least six months after your hair has started to grow back before you have woven-in or glued-in hair extensions.

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/ Why Does Chemotherapy Make My Hair Fall Out

Hair loss or alopecia is the best known and most visible side effect of chemotherapy. Actually chemotherapy is an umbrella term for any cancer treatment using what are known as cytostatics. Cancer cells tend to divide rapidly. Cytostatic drugs are drugs that aim to quickly destroy these rapidly dividing cells or to delay their growth. Unfortunately, they also kill other, healthy cells that also divide rapidly, such as the cells in our hair follicles that make our hair grow. This is why chemotherapy also causes hair loss.

Fertility Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

There is limited research into how rituximab effects an unborn baby. Its generally recommended that rituximab should be stopped six months before pregnancy. However, if you have recently had rituximab and find yourself pregnant it is not thought to be harmful to your baby.

Usually you will not be treated with rituximab during the last six months of your pregnancy. However, some women may have to take rituximab throughout their pregnancy if their condition remains active and poses a risk to them or their baby. There is no evidence to suggest this would harm their unborn child.

It is considered safe to take rituximab while you are breastfeeding. You should talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have.

It is considered safe for men to continue taking rituximab while trying to father a baby.

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Caring For Hair That Grows Back

When your hair begins to grow back, it will be much thinner and more easily damaged than your original hair. It may also be a different texture or color. The following tips may help you take care of the hair that grows back.

  • Limit washing your hair to twice a week.

  • Massage your scalp gently to remove dry skin and flakes.

  • Use a wide-tooth comb instead of a brush for your hair. When styling your hair, limit the amount of pinning, curling, or blow-drying with high heat.

  • Avoid permanent or semi-permanent hair color for at least 3 months after treatment ends.

  • Avoid curling or straightening your hair with chemical products such as permanent wave solutions until it all grows back. You may need to wait up to a year before you can chemically curl or straighten their hair. Before trying chemical products again, test a small patch of hair to see how it reacts. You can also ask your hairdresser for suggestions.

Chemo Less Likely To Cause Hair Loss

Can I Avoid Losing Hair While Getting Chemotherapy?

Some chemotherapy drugs result in only minimal hair loss, though these are often combined with drugs that cause more hair loss. These include:

  • The platinums: Paraplatin , Platinol , Eloxatin
  • Antitumor antibiotics: Bleo 15K , Mutamicin , low doses of epirubicin or doxorubicin
  • Antimetabolites: Trexall, Otrexup, Rasuvo
  • Oral cyclophosphamide
  • Topoisomerase inhibitors: Novantrone , Hycamtin or Potactasol
  • Alkylating agents: Hexalen

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Consider A Head Covering

Not only might wigs, scarves or other hair coverings make you feel more comfortable with your appearance, they might even be covered by your health insurance. Chemotherapy-induced hair loss can make your scalp more sensitive, so coverings can also help protect it from the elements. They can also help regulate your body temperature, as having less hair might make you feel colder.

Fingernail And Toenail Changes

Some chemotherapy drugs can damage your fingernails and toenails. The nails may:

  • Become brittle and sore
  • Fall off

Like hair loss, nail problems are short-term.

Keeping your nails short during treatment may make nail care easier. Your nails will return to normal once chemotherapy ends.

You can use nail polish whenever you wish.

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Increased Risk For Leukemia

Although rare, receiving chemotherapy can put you at higher risk for developing leukemia down the line. If this is the case, it usually appears within 10 years of receiving chemotherapy.

For most people, the benefits of receiving chemotherapy to help treat breast cancer outweigh the slight risk for developing leukemia.

The Emotional Impact Of Hair Loss

Chemotherapy and Hair Loss: Timing, Prevention Tips, and More

Hair loss can be traumatic in part because its so visible. You may feel that it reveals to the world that youre a cancer patient, threatening your privacy. And you may have to deal with it around the same time that youre facing other unwanted changes to your body and appearance due to treatment.

Of course, not everyone reacts to treatment-related hair loss in the same way. For some, it can be devastating, especially at the beginning. For others, its a big inconvenience but it doesnt affect them as deeply.

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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.

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.

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Cutting Hair Off Prior To Or During Hair Loss Due To Chemotherapy

In our section about the Hair growth cycle, we understand that the hair root sits underneath the skin surface. This is where the three phases of the growth cycle occur with each and every individual hair. Therefore cutting hair short prior to or during hair loss cannot affect the hair growth function that takes place underneath the skin. If cutting hair short is something you decide to do we recommend that you avoid shaving with a bare razor. This is simply due to the possibility of infection if you cut yourself and not to do with affecting hair re-growth. Do use clean clippers/scissors and take a look at our section Cutting hair before hair loss.You can also read more in-depth information in our New hair growth section.

Tips For Possible Complete Hair Loss

Chemo hair loss video (what happens over 5 days)
  • 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 you’ve 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 won’t 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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To Avoid Making Hair Fall Out Faster:

  • 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.

Will Cutting Or Shaving Hair Off Prior To Or After Hair Loss Affect Hair Growth

The short answer is no, you can not affect the hair growth system by shaving or cutting hair prior to or after hair loss. This question is one that causes a lot of concern and miss understanding. At Cancer Hair Care we often have people contact us who are really worried about causing a problem to future hair growth. This is understandable as everyone wants to be sure they are doing the best they can.

Lets go into more detail about hair cutting so that you can feel well informed to make choices.

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Is Rituximab A Chemotherapy

RITUXAN is not chemotherapy. RITUXAN is a type of antibody therapy that can be used alone or with chemotherapy. They work in different ways to find and attack the cells where cancer starts. RITUXAN targets and attaches to the CD20 protein found on the surface of blood cells with cancer and some healthy blood cells.


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