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How Can I Prevent Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

Who Can Use Scalp Cooling

Can I Avoid Losing Hair While Getting Chemotherapy?

Scalp cooling may not be recommended for all cancer patients. Patients undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment are more likely to experience hair loss. If the patient is not receiving such drugs, hair loss may be minimal and may not indicate using scalp cooling systems.

Scalp cooling is not advised for pediatric patients and patients with certain cancers or a history of some condition, including:

  • imminent bone marrow ablation chemotherapy
  • previously received, or scheduled to undergo skull irradiation

Scalp cooling is not recommended for patients if there is a risk of tumor metastasizing into the scalp.

  • Patients with advance forms of colon cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, are at high risk to have scalp and/or cutaneous metastases.
  • The long-term effects of scalp-cooling and scalp metastasis have not been studied extensively.

Moreover, scalp cooling is not effective for all the patients. The treatment can be stopped immediately, if they are not helpful.

Patients can talk to their physicians or cancer care team about the risk of hair loss, and the benefits of scalp cooling.

Why Chemotherapy Causes Hair Loss

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill rapidly growing cells. Some cells, such as those in our hair follicles, divide rapidly and are affected by chemotherapy as well. Hair loss does not occur with all chemotherapy medications and people may have different responses, even with the same medications. You may experience complete hair loss, hair thinning, or may not notice any hair loss at all. Learn more about the chemotherapy drugs which are most likely to cause hair loss.

The Best Candidates For Scalp Cooling

Men and women undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumors may be candidates for scalp coolingas long as they can tolerate the cold, says Manpreet Kohli, MD, Director of Breast Surgery at Monmouth Medical Center.

The technique may not work as well with certain chemotherapy regimens, though. For instance, it doesnt appear to be as effective for patients receiving drug anthracycline.

Talk to your medical oncologist to find out if you might benefit from scalp cooling.

For more information about cancer treatment at Monmouth Medical Center visit The Leon Hess Cancer Center.

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How To Take Care Of Hair During Chemotherapy

During chemotherapy, specialists recommend gentle hair care. Hair should not be washed too often and mild shampoos should always be used. If your hair is blow-dried, be sure to use the lowest temperature setting. Hard brushes and curlers should definitely be avoided, as well as hair coloring.

Hair loss can occur as early as the second or third week after the first cycle of chemotherapy, and the loss may begin only after the second cycle of chemotherapy. Some people gradually lose hair, while others immediately begin to lose hair in large quantities. In any case, applying at least some of the tricks we gave you, will work wonders.

How To Minimize Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

Sore Scalp Hair Loss / Scalp Cooling Helps Prevent Hair ...

Depending on the type and dosage of chemo you receive, you may experience hair thinning and even baldness.Once you’ve committed to treating your breast cancer with chemotherapy, there’s a good chance you’ll lose at least some of your hair. Side effects range from thinning to total baldness and depend mostly on the type and dosage of chemo you receive. The problem isn’t limited to the hair on your headyou may lose your body or pubic hair too. The loss is usually temporary, but it’s one of the side effects that women fear most. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to minimize it.

Hair-loss therapiesSeveral treatments have been researched as ways to minimize hair loss or speed regrowth, but none of them are 100% effective. Hair-restoration “experts” and products may make big promises as a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

You and your doctor may disagree about whether you should try one of these products. “Doctors tend to put little faith in hair-saving measures with questionable outcomes, but that doesn’t mean there are not options out there that patients can try,” advises Mario Lacouture, MD, director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Dermatologic Care Center at Northwestern University in Chicago.

It isnt cheap, however, and it can cause scalp irritation or itchiness. If you have heart disease, talk to your doctor before using Rogaine, as it may cause rapid heart rate or low blood pressure.

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Chemo Hair Fall Timeline

Patients undergoing a chemotherapy treatment will notice different levels of hair loss depending on the pattern of medication, dosage and type of cancer.

  • A lot of patients experience hair fall within the first 1 or 2 weeks of treatment itself.
  • Hair loss usually tends to begin from the side of the ears and top of the head. However, it varies for each individual.
  • By about 3 months, complete balding may occur.
  • Patients tend to notice their hair regrowing after 1 to 3 months. A change in hair color and texture may be evident but are usually not permanent.
  • 60 percent of patients have reported a change in their color and hair type.

Did You Know?

  • About 65 percent of patients undergoing chemotherapy experience alopecia .

Does All Chemo Cause Hair Loss

Hair loss does not occur with all chemotherapy. Whether or not your hair remains as it is, thins or falls out, depends on the drugs and dosages. Hair loss may occur as early as the second or third week after the first cycle of chemotherapy, although it may not happen until after the second cycle of chemotherapy.

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How To Prepare For Scalp Cooling

Patients have a lot of questions about preparing for their scalp cooling treatment. Some hospitals or healthcare providers offer the patient to take a look at the scalp cooling system, and even have a cap fitting prior to the first appointment. This allows the patient to be prepared emotionally and practically and reduce their anxiety.

Generally, the patients hair must be clean and tangle free for scalp cooling. Some centers may prepare the patients hair, whereas some may ask the patients to prepare their hair. In case the patient must prepare themselves after coming to the hospital on the day of the treatment, here are some guidelines:

  • The patient must reach the hospital 20 minutes before the appointment, so that they have ample time to prepare their hair.
  • The patient must slightly dampen their hair using a water spray to remove any air bubbles out of the hair, and to make the hair flatter to ensure a good cap fit.
  • If recommended, a small amount of conditioner can be applied to ensure thin coverage and help easy removal of the cap.
  • Using a wide tooth comb or a brush, the wet hair must be combed. In case the hair is too wet, it must be dried using a towel.
  • The nurse may then comb the hair to cover and protect the scalp before placing the cold cap.

Below is a list of dos and donts before scalp cooling:

Benefits And The Success Rate Of Scalp Cooling

Avoiding hair loss during Chemotherapy

Scalp cooling is intended to help prevent or reduce hair loss in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

However, many people may experience total or some hair loss or hair thinning despite scalp cooling. This may be due to hair type, the type and dose of chemotherapy treatment.

Some studies suggested that people with thick hair are at higher risk of hair loss than those with thin hair, as thick hair shields the head, so that the cap cannot make close contact with the scalp.

The success rate of scalp cooling depends on various factors including chemotherapy regimen, dose, duration of drug infusion, chemotherapy drug metabolism, and concomitant comorbidities.

Scientific evidence for the effectiveness of scalp cooling is unclear as the patients included in the studies had different chemotherapy, different hair types and different cooling machines. However, some evidence is available regarding the success rate of scalp cooling.

The summaries of these studies are discussed below:

  • A study suggested that the risk of significant hair loss can be lowered by 43%, and the patients need not use a wig or any other hair covering.
  • The success of scalp cooling ranged from 50% to 84% among those who received taxane-based chemotherapy, 20% to 43% among those who were treated with anthracycline-based chemotherapy, about 16% among those who received a taxane followed by an anthracycline, and 100% among patients who were treated with a weekly Taxol.

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Why Will I Lose My Hair During Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, attack fast-growing cancer cells. These treatments can also affect normal cells that grow fast, such as hair cells.

Chemotherapy can cause hair loss on your scalp, pubic area, arms, legs, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Radiation therapy to your head often causes hair loss on your scalp. Sometimes, depending on the dose of radiation to your head, your hair may grow back differently from how it looked before, or it may not grow back at all.

When Will I Begin To Lose My Hair

You may start to see your hair thin or fall out 1 to 4 weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment and 4 weeks after you receive radiation therapy.

The amount of hair that falls out or thins depends on the type, dose, and timing of your treatments. The speed at which it falls out also varies from person to person. You may first notice hair on your pillow in the morning or see it when you shower or brush your hair.

Some people will experience hair thinning rather than hair loss. Hair thinning is when your hair feels and looks thinner in texture. Talk with your healthcare team about what to expect after your chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

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Can You Prevent Hair Loss From Chemotherapy

Hair loss is one of the most dreaded and distressing symptoms of chemotherapy for cancer, and many people have wondered if it’s possible to prevent it from happening. In recent years, methods such as scalp cooling have become available that are quite effective for some people. Like anything, these methods can have limitations and side effects of their own. What do you need to know to make the best choice regarding your own hair loss during treatment?

How To Prepare For Hair Loss

Cooling caps to help control hair loss during chemotherapy
  • 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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Tips To Help Save Your Nails During Chemo:

  • Wear gloves while doing chores, such as washing up as exposure to water can lead to fungal infections of the nail bed.
  • Experiment with nail polishes in darker shades to cover up discolourisation
  • If youd like to wear nail polish, consider using a water-based polish. Conventional nail polishes may contain chemicals to harden them that are considered toxic.
  • To take off polish, use a remover that doesnt contain acetone, ethylacetate, or other harsh solvents. There are gentle removers specifically for water-based nail polish.
  • Try vitamins for hair, skin, and nails.
  • Use cuticle remover cream or gels and push your nails back gently rather than cutting them.
  • Massage cuticle cream into the cuticle area daily to prevent dryness, splitting, and hangnails.
  • As Beaus lines grow beyond the nail bed, cut them off
  • Increase iron in your diet
  • Alert your doctor to any signs of inflammation or infection
  • Evaux EvoNail Nail Repair Solution is perfect for soothing brittle or tender nails, nail ridges, split nails and yellowed or blackened nails.
  • Try to cut back on or avoid caffeine
  • Use a gentle nail oil like the Defiant Beauty Nail Oil to keep your nails moisturised
  • Wear comfortable shoes that allow adequate room for your toes
  • Dont use acrylics nails or other nail wraps. Fake nails can trap bacteria that may cause infection.

What Does The Research Show

Controlled studies of older forms of scalp hypothermia have had conflicting results. However, some studies of newer, computer-controlled cooling cap systems have shown benefits. Recent studies of women getting chemo for early-stage breast cancer have found that at least half of the women using one of these newer devices lost less than half of their hair. The most common side effects have been headaches, neck and shoulder discomfort, chills, and scalp pain.

The success of scalp hypothermia may be related to the type of chemo drugs used, the chemo dosage, and how well the person tolerates the coldness.

Some research has also suggested that people with a thicker hair layer might be more likely to lose hair than those with a thinner layer of hair. This might be because the scalp doesnt cool down enough due to the insulating effect of the hair.

Cooling caps that are not fitted tightly have also been linked with more hair loss, often in patches where contact with the scalp is poor.

There remain some unanswered questions about the safety of scalp hypothermia. Some doctors are concerned that the cold could keep chemo from reaching any stray cancer cells lurking in the scalp. Some believe that the scalp cooling might protect cancer cells there and allow them to survive the chemo and keep growing. But in people who have used scalp hypothermia, reports of cancer in the scalp have been rare. More studies are needed to answer questions about long-term safety.

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