How To Prevent Hair Loss During Chemo
Chemotherapy works by attacking cancer cells in your body. As a side effect, chemotherapy kills the cells that make your hair grow. Hair usually begins falling out within 2 to 4 weeks after treatment.
Some people choose to prepare for this side effect by shaving their hair off before treatment starts. Many people are more comfortable with this choice. But not everyone who undergoes chemotherapy will lose all of their hair as a result. Sometimes hair simply thins out or recedes.
You may also ask your doctor about scalp cooling treatments. These treatments, which include a scalp cooling cap, slow blood flow to your scalp during treatments. While its not completely effective, scalp cooling can help you retain more of your hair. The average cost is about
Here are the answers to common hair loss questions.
Why Protective Styles Can Cause Traction Alopecia
As much as we love protective styles, extensions, and wigs, if you’re using them often, repeated stress on the scalp can lead to traction alopecia. According to Doris Day, M.D. a board-certified dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center who specializes in hair loss, “Traction alopecia is caused by anything that pulls on the hair, ultimately damaging the root and can lead to scarring and permanent hair loss. It’s a process that usually takes years. Underlying causes can be tight braiding, tight ponytails, or even just pulling at the hair.” Ouch. It’s important to monitor how much hair you’re losing in between styles, so you have a chance to stop it in its tracks if it is substantial.
When To See A Board
If you have hair loss, its never too early to see a board-certified dermatologist. People develop hair loss for many reasons. Your hairstyle may be the cause. Its also possible that something else is causing your hair loss, such as stress or hereditary hair loss. A board-certified dermatologist can get to the root of the problem.
The sooner you find out whats causing your hair loss and take steps to stop it, the better your results.
Related AAD resources
ImagesImage 1: Getty Images
Image 2: Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides
ReferencesAmerican Academy of Dermatology. African American hair: Dermatologists tips for everyday care, processing and styling. News release issued Aug 24, 2014.
Billero V and Miteva M. Traction alopecia: The root of the problem. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 11:14959.
Haskin A and Aguh C. All hairstyles are not created equal: What the dermatologist needs to know about black hairstyling practices and the risk of traction alopecia . J Am Acad Dermatol 2016 75:606-11.
Sperling LC. Alopcias. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:1001.
Wright DR, Gathers R, et al. Hair care practices and their association with scalp and hair disorders in African American girls. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011 64:253-62.
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
Apply An Avocado Hair Mask
Avocados are rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids that nourish the hair. When used as a hair mask, avocados can help in deep conditioning your hair and thus preventing hair damage and breakage.
How to use:
- Mix half an avocado with one egg yolk to form a smooth paste, and add 1 tbsp of shea butter to the mix. Apply the paste to damp hair and scalp. Massage the scalp for a few minutes. Rinse your hair after 20 minutes and shampoo as usual. Repeat this remedy twice a month.
- Alternatively, mix one avocado with 1 tbsp of honey and Â½ tbsp of coconut oil to form a paste. Apply it to the length of your hair, avoiding the roots. Rinse your hair after 15 minutes.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Hair Loss
It can be hard to tell if youre losing hair especially if your hair loss happens gradually.
Instead, you may notice that your ponytails dont feel as thick, or that your scalp is more visible.
If youre unsure, ask your stylist if they have noticed any differences. This is especially important for women who are experiencing hair loss in areas that are difficult to see without someone elses help, such as the top of the scalp.
If you or your stylist suspect hair loss, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Generally, the sooner you act, the more hair you can save.
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Limit Your Hairs Exposure To Heat
For the most part, heat and hair dont go well together. While its okay to straighten or curl your hair using a heat-based product such as a straightener or curling iron, its important to take care not to cause damage when you do so.
To protect your hair from damage, always use the lowest heat setting on your straightener, blow dryer or curling iron.
Hold your hair dryer away from your scalp and limit the amount of time that any hot surface touches your hair directly.
Better yet, limit your use of hot styling tools in general. For example, try to straighten or curl your hair once a week, or even less, instead of curling or straightening every other day.
Ethnic Hair: How To Prevent Damage From Braids Weaves And Wigs
Not all hair looks, feels, and acts the same way. All ethnicities have different types of hair textures and structures that determine how fast it can grow and how susceptible it is to damage. African American hair has 5 different curl classifications, from a looser curl to a tight coil, making the growth rate very slow. The hair can quickly become dry and coarse because the spiral structure prevents protective oils from traveling down the hair shaft and fully lubricating the hair fibers. The fragile, dry hairs are then extremely prone to breakage. Without the desired smooth and silky appearance, many people often try to achieve that look through the use of wigs or weaves.
What Styling Methods are Most Damaging to Ethnic Hair?
Braids should never be done too tightly. She urges that customers speak up if their hairdresser is making the braids too tight. Hair shouldnt have to hurt, she says.
How to Do Braids the Right Way
Common Issues With Weaves and Wigs
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Why Does Hair Fall Out
The hair on your head goes through a life cycle that involves growth, resting, and shedding. Its common for people to lose around 100 hairs a day.
If you experience more sudden loss, loss in patches, or overall thinning, you may want to see your doctor.
Some shedding is temporary and may respond well to changes in diet, certain treatments, or lifestyle changes. Other loss may be more permanent or not stop until an underlying condition is treated.
By age 40, of all men will experience hair loss due to hereditary conditions like androgenic alopecia . Likewise, more than half of women will experience genetic hair loss before the age of 70.
Other causes of hair loss include:
- medical conditions, like alopecia areata, scalp infections, or trichotillomania
- hormonal changes from pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or thyroid issues
- medications or supplements, such as those used for cancer, high blood pressure, depression, or arthritis
- radiation treatment for conditions like cancer
- stress, whether physical or emotional
- styling practices, like wearing tight ponytails or cornrows
Hard Water/mineral Build Up
If you live in a place full of hard water, your hair will tend to accumulate minerals and as a result it will respond less to some products or at times you will see no improvement at all. This is because the minerals create something sort of a layer/deposit that covers the hair.
The accumulation is what others refer to as mineral build up. Some of these minerals that are found in hard water include, calcium, Sulphur among other metals. This often leads to breaking off of your hair.
Use a cleansing shampoo to remove the mineral deposits
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How To Prevent Hair Loss After Pregnancy
Many women experience dehydration, fatigue, stress, and falling estrogen levels as their body adjusts to life after pregnancy. These factors can lead to increased hair shedding. Some of this hair loss is often related to the stress and exhaustion of having a baby. This condition is temporary and should resolve within a year after the pregnancy has ended.
You can try to minimize hair loss after pregnancy by continuing to take your prenatal vitamins if you are breastfeeding, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding tight hairstyles that pull hair away from the scalp. Dermatologists recommend using lightweight shampoos and conditioners and seeing a stylist to make hair loss appear less obvious until your hair shedding slows down.
Do Braids And Dreadlocks Create A Receding/thinning Hairline
Dreadlocks and braids have been around for centuries. Ancient Egyptian men wore braids and dreadlocks as a symbol of power, and Celtics were known to have “hair like snakes” during the time of the Roman Empire. Even the Old Testament tells the story of Samson and Delilah, in which a man’s masculinity is directly related to ‘the seven locks on his head.’ And, the worldwide success of reggae artist Bob Marley catapulted the Rastafarian dreadlock hairstyle into the mainstream as an iconic emblem of the anti-establishment culture.But whether your locks and braids are a political statement, a manifestation of cultural pride, or simply an expression of your personal style, men who wear these tight hairstyles should be mindful of the potential damage they may cause — if not cared for properly. In some cases, they can even cause receding hairlines, hair loss and even baldness. If your braids and dreads start to recede, appear thin, or shed in large amounts, you may be suffering from whats known as Traction Alopecia.
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The Truth About Protective Styles & Hair Loss
This is the first in our series Uncovered: Black Women & Hair Loss. Take our hair loss survey here.
We love a good protective style. And they can be the answer to so many of our hair problems. Want to grow your hair out? Protective styling. Want low manipulation for your hair? Protective styling. Need to give your hair a rest. yep, you guessed it: Protective styling. But are protective styles truly the answer to all your hair troubles or are they doing more harm than good? Here, we tackle five of the most popular protective styles and how they may be contributing to hair loss and shedding. But dont worry, were not going to leave you hanging. Weve got tips and tricks to prevent hair damage if you choose to rock these protective styles.
Braids are easily the #1 poster child for protective styling. From box braids to faux locs to Senegalese twists, braids offer endless versatility, styling, and length. However, we would be lying if we didnt discuss the warnings and dangers braids may pose to your hair.
When its a protective style: Braids are great for short-term commitments. If youre going on vacation or need to have your hair up for a while, braids offer the perfect solution. As long as you continue to moisturize, shampoo, and condition your own hair while its in braids, you will definitely see hair growth when its time to take them down.
Warm Water Does Wonders
Since the braids feel tight and heavy, you can lighten the braids by running warm water through them. All you have to do is wet a cloth or towel and gently rub your scalp, edges and forehead.
A cold shower will also do the trick. You can relieve tight braids by running a cold shower on them. As the water runs through your scalp, you can massage it to ease the pressure faster. But you have to know that running cold water through your braids will shorten your lifespan.
A notable alternative is a cold compress if you dont want to ruin your hair. You can also opt for a warm water press too to keep it longer.
Be Gentle With Braids Or Dreadlocks When Washing
Everybody knows that washing your hair provides both cleanliness and hydration, but washing your dreads removes the natural oils from your hair that causes knots to slip out, which helps dreads develop faster. Because your hair is dead matter, washing braids and dreadlocks too vigorously can cause them to lose their structure, especially if they are fresh. Avoid rubbing your scalp when washing your hair to avoid undoing your braids and dreads. Instead, use the palms of your hands to apply shampoo and conditioner into your hair carefully, and gently use your fingertips to massage the shampoo around your scalp. To avoid heat damage caused by hairdryers, pat your hair instead with a dry towel.
Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed
If caught early enough, traction alopecia can be reversed. This can only happen if the hair follicles have not scarred. If scarring has occurred, then the hair follicles cannot grow back.
Scarring takes a long time to occur with traction alopecia, and there are other warning signs to look for that will indicate that traction alopecia is occurring. These symptoms include:
- redness of the scalp
- soreness or stinging of the scalp
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Don’t Pull Your Dreadlocks Too Tight
Pulling your dreads through various style procedures promotes hair loss because dreadlocking resists the natural kink and curl of coily hair. The added weight and pull on the scalp and hair bulb generated by dreads can cause hair thinning, hair loss, and even scarring in people with European and Asian hair types. Pulling your hair repeatedly and consistently generates tension around your hair follicles, which can also lead to Traction Alopecia. When braiding your dreads, choose thinner sections to reduce any unnecessary pressure.
Avoid Hair Dyes And Color Treatments
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How To Stop Hair Loss
If youre noticing hair loss, dont panic, Kobren says. Bring the issue up with your doctor so they can determine whats causing the hair loss and discuss treatment options with you.
If youre hoping to to manage hair loss with medication, early intervention is key, Kobren says. A few different types of medications are available, including finasteride and minoxidil. Other medications are also sometimes used off-label. Its important to buy these medications through a physician rather than purchasing them from an online supplier, because the latter could switch the type of generic you receive without telling you, which could impact the effectiveness of the treatment, Kobren notes.
Hair transplant surgery is a last resort, he says. Two types of hair restoration procedures are currently available, but 70% of people who have them end up with results that make them feel anywhere from dissatisfied to disfigured. These surgeries also typically arent covered by insurance unless the hair loss is due to a severe injury.
An alternative to treating hair loss is embracing it. Shave your head and see how you fare, if you can deal with that, Kobren says. Because the road to recovery and trying to treat hair loss, whether it’s surgical procedures or even FDA-approved medication, that’s a long road and it’s a real commitment.
Eat Well And Avoid Chemicals
Because your hair is made up of proteins, eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for maintaining good hair health. Incorporate protein-rich foods such as fish, cheese, meat, or almonds into your meals.You should also avoid chemically treating or dying your hair too frequently. Many products contain chemicals proven to harm your hair, making it more prone to breakage and hair loss.
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How To Relieve Pain From Tight Braids Without Loosening Your Hair
When I was much younger, anytime I writhed in pain while having my hairdo, my mom would say to me, Its not easy to look beautiful, Victoria. Beauty comes with its price pain is one of it and you must be ready to endure if you really want that hairdo. Truly, its so. Its one thing to choose any of the types of African braids, its another to sit, have it done and endure the pain. But if there really is no gain without pain, how about you learn how to relieve pain from tight braids? This way, you save yourself from unnecessary headaches whenever you wear these hairstyles?
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