Hair Loss And Your Job
There tends to be a lot less stigma with being open about a cancer diagnosis in the workplace than there was even a generation ago. If youre planning to continue working or to job hunt during treatment, youre likely to find that many colleagues are understanding about what youre going through.
Still, its up to you to decide how comfortable you feel telling your colleagues or others you interact with in your job about your diagnosis and treatment. If youve lost your hair and you want to maintain your privacy at work, you might choose to wear a wig that looks as close as possible to your natural hair and to otherwise conceal your hair loss . If youre not as concerned about privacy, you might wear a scarf or choose not to hide your hair loss.
How you decide to handle hair loss at work might also depend on your job role and industry. For instance, if you work in a field in which your appearance is front and center more, you might decide that concealing your hair loss on the days you go into work helps you feel more confident.
For more info about navigating your work life during breast cancer treatment, including what to do if you think youve experienced discrimination, see Breast Cancer and Your Job.
Written by: Jen Uscher, contributing writer
This page was developed with contributions from the following experts:
Nik Georgopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor in cell biology, Paxman Scalp Cooling Research Centre, School of Applied Sciences, University of Huddersfield, UK
How Is It Treated
Treatment for hair loss depends on the cause. It also depends on your feelings. You may decide that you need treatment, or you may not be worried about thinning hair or baldness. The choice is up to you.
If hair loss is caused by something that won’t last or can be treated, your hair is likely to grow back. For example, if an underactive thyroid is causing the problem, taking thyroid medicine may help. And most hair lost during chemotherapy will grow back after the treatment ends.
Hair loss that runs in the family can be treated with medicines or hair transplant surgery. Some people choose to wear hairpieces, like wigs or toupees. Finding different ways of styling your hair, like dyeing or combing, can help.
If hair loss is caused by something you can control, like stress or medicines, you can treat it by getting rid of the cause.
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Hair Loss
Because so many things can cause hair loss, a dermatologist acts like a detective and begins by asking questions. The dermatologist will want to know whether your hair loss happened suddenly or gradually. Knowing this helps to determine the cause.
A dermatologist also will ask what medicines you take, what allergies you have, and whether you have been dieting. It is important to give the dermatologist accurate information. Like a murder mystery, the slightest clue can solve the case. Women may be asked about their menstrual cycles, pregnancies, and menopause.
The dermatologist also will carefully look at your scalp and hair. During an exam, the dermatologist may pull on your hair. Sometimes a dermatologist needs to pull out a hair to get the necessary evidence. And sometimes a dermatologist needs to look at the hair on the rest of your body to see whether there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
Sometimes the evidence lies in your scalp. The dermatologist may remove a small piece of the scalp. This is called a scalp biopsy. A dermatologist can quickly and safely perform a scalp biopsy during an office visit. A scalp biopsy can be essential to solving the case. Sometimes, a blood test is necessary.
Because so many things can cause hair loss, it can take time to find the cause.
How To Protect Manage And Treat Thinning Hair:
You likely dont need to wash your hair every day. In fact, Samantha DelaFuente, a stylist at Marie Robinson Salons in New York and Miami, tells SELF that she recommends washing only two or three times a week. Dont be afraid of dirty hair, she says.
And dermatologists agree: Washing too often strips your hair of necessary oils, and washing infrequently can leave hair dull and limp, especially if you overuse dry shampoo, Dr. Bridges says. If you have natural hair, which tends to be drier and more prone to breakage, clean it even less frequently, Dr. Khetarpal says.
Moisturizing shampoos formulated without sulfateschemicals in shampoos that help clean but can also be drying on sensitive or dry scalpsare a safe bet for everyone. In particular, celebrity stylist Tym Wallace tells SELF he recommends Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo .
Conditioner gives your hair shine and reduces static electricity, the AAD explains, which is why it improves the look and feel of dull or damaged hair. Apply to the ends of the hair and work your way up, DelaFuente says. A little goes a long way the more conditioner you use, the flatter your hair will be.
Remove tangles with a wide-tooth comb and rinse with cool water, which closes the cuticle and makes the hair shiny, Dr. Bridges explains.
After shampooing and conditioning, try using a leave-in product, like a conditioner or detangler, which will boost moisture and provide heat protection before styling.
Oribe Serene Scalp Thickening Treatment Spray
You need more than just a hairstylist.
Weve already given you the statistics on balding, which basically prove this: It behooves any and every man in their 20s whos concerned about balding to schedule a consultation with a trichologist. A trichologist is a hairstylist whos been educated about the diseases of the human hair and scalp. A consultation, which can range in price but will generally last from 30 minutes to an hour, will generally include an examination of your scalp under a microscope.
The person doing your scope will also be looking for anything from the miniaturization of the follicle to a process called follicular scarring, which identifies areas of the scalp where the blood is no longer flowing. Hill may ask her clients to also submit a medical evaluation and blood work, which can be done with their doctors, so she can assess things like diet and nutrition. The goal of the consultation is for the trichologist to identify what your next steps are: Should you change your diet? Your grooming routine? Your sleep schedule?
If youve made it all the way down here, youve reached the point in the hair loss journey when all other options have either tired or failedand now its time for the big guns.
These medications are generally recommended across the board, even for patients who are also undergoing other types of intervention. But if you do reach the point where you need to go deeper, Dr. Bauman lays out a few other options.
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Styling Out Hair Loss
There are ways to help slow down hair loss without resorting to drastic treatment. Being careful to wash your hair with lukewarm water rather than hot, and being gentle when drying is key to maintaining the life span of the hair youve got.
Getting plenty of sleepat least seven hours per nightis also crucial, as growth hormone levels are at their highest while we sleep.
Embracing your hair loss, rather than forking out for expensive surgeries, will not only leave you with more money in your pocket, but could do wonders for your self esteem, teaching to love yourself as you are.
Hair loss is a completely natural part of ageing and there are plenty of benefits to having a less-than-full head of hair. Your morning routine becomes infinitely simpler for example. No more faffing with an elaborate quiff, just wash and go.
Your worth as a man is not tied up in how much hair there is on your head. If you dont make your hair loss a big deal, nobody else will either.
Medications To Treat Hair Loss
Treatment depends on the underlying cause, says Dr. Scott. Sometimes simply addressing a medical condition prompting hair loss will be enough for the hair to regrow. In other instances, a woman might consider a medication like minoxidil , which helps with certain types of hair loss, or another treatment to replace or regrow lost hair.
A newer option being used to treat hair loss is platelet-rich plasma injections. For this treatment, the doctor draws your blood, divides it into its separate components, recombines the blood fluid with a high concentration of platelets , and introduces the resulting preparation back into the scalp.
The science on this isnt totally worked out. We still dont completely understand the mechanism behind PRP, but growth factors contained in platelets can stimulate regeneration of hair follicles and other tissues as well, says Dr. Scott.
In addition, low-level LED laser lights have been found to be helpful in regrowing hair in some cases. Its likely that even more treatments will be developed in the near future.
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Surgical Procedures For Hair Loss
The type of procedure that a dermatologist recommends depends on how much hair you have lost and the cause. While we do not currently provide the following surgical procedures, your dermatologist may refer you to a medical professional who does.
- Hair transplantation: Skin on the scalp that has good hair growth is removed and transplanted to areas of the scalp that need hair.
- Scalp reduction: Bald scalp is surgically removed and hair-bearing scalp is brought closer together to reduce balding. Scalp reduction surgery can be performed alone or in conjunction with a hair transplant.
- Scalp expansion: Devices are inserted under the scalp for about 3 to 4 weeks to stretch the skin. This procedure may be performed before a scalp reduction to make the scalp more lax. It also can be performed solely to stretch hair-bearing areas, which reduces balding.
- Scalp flaps: A hair-bearing segment of scalp is surgically moved and placed where hair is needed.
Risk Factors For Hair Loss
There are a couple of factors that can increase the risk of hair loss. The risk factors include
- Hereditary of family balding history in either side of your parents families
- Age, when you get older the riks of hair loss get higher
- Medical conditions and hormonal imbalances
- Stress acquired from shocking conditions
- Significant weight loss
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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.
Don’t Feel Bad About Feeling Bad
“If you really find you can’t cope with the change in your appearance, there is nothing wrong with wearing a wig — it’s a very good and logical solution, particularly if you are waiting for a treatment to kick in,” Howard tells WebMD.
Reed says that while most women he treats are reluctant to try a wig or hair extensions at first, in the end, he says, many find it is the best solution, particularly if their appearance is key to their sense of well-being.
“In many instances a wig can give a woman back her confidence and her self-esteem it’s not the best solution, but at least she feels she can face the outside world without being judged harshly, and that can be important,” says Reed.
Lusskin believes it’s all about finding your personal comfort level and being true to yourself.
“While some women may benefit from allowing themselves to be seen without a hair piece — often finding that a very liberating experience — for others, hiding their hair loss through the use of wigs or hair pieces is the right answer. It’s really all about being true to your own feelings about yourself,” says Lusskin.
While experts report that most women do eventually accept and make peace with their hair loss, for some it can become a serious psychological stumbling block. In this instance, worry and concern over appearance can become a pathological obsession that invades all areas of a woman’s life.
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You Lost A Lot Of Weight Very Quickly
Sudden weight loss is a form of physical trauma that can result in thinning hair. This could happen even if the weight loss is ultimately good for you. It’s possible that the weight loss itself put unnecessary stress your body, or that not eating right can resulted in vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Loss of hair along with noticeable weight loss may also be a sign of an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
This type of hair loss, too, will correct itself once after a while. “Sudden weight loss seems to shock the system and you’ll have a six-month period of hair loss and then it corrects itself,” says Dr. Hammonds.
Change Your Diet And Exercise More
Like anything else that grows in and on your body, hair requires nourishment to develop in a healthy manner. Proper hair growth particularly requires plenty of iron and protein. Ensure to factor this in when preparing your meal plan. Also, dont forget to exercise to increase your bodys nutrient absorption efficiency, and try meditation and yoga to prevent stress-induced hair loss.
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