How To Prepare For Hair Loss
- 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.
Tips For Possible Complete Hair Loss
- 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.
Radiation Treatment And Hair Loss
Radiation therapy uses a high-energy beam to damage quickly growing cells in your body. The goal is to target cancer cells, but some normal cells get damaged as well.
Radiation only causes hair loss on the particular part of the body treated. If radiation is used to treat the breast, there is no hair loss on your head. But there might be loss of hair around the nipple, if you have hair there.
Radiation to the brain, used to treat breast cancer that has spread to the brain, can cause hair loss on your head. Depending on the dose of radiation, your hair may be patchier when it grows back or it may not grow back.
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Procedures To Help Regrow Hair
While at-home treatments offer convenience, a procedure performed by a board-certified dermatologist tends to be more effective. For this reason, your dermatologist may include one of the following in your treatment plan.
Injections of corticosteroids: To help your hair regrow, your dermatologist injects this medication into the bald areas. These injections are usually given every 4 to 8 weeks as needed, so you will need to return to your dermatologists office for treatment.
This is considered the most effective treatment for people who have a few patches of alopecia areata, a condition that causes hair loss. In one study of 127 patients with patchy alopecia areata, more than 80% who were treated with these injections had at least half of their hair regrow within 12 weeks.
Hair transplant: If you have an area of thinning or balding due to male pattern baldness, your dermatologist may mention a hair transplant as an option. This can be an effective and permanent solution.
Laser therapy: If using minoxidil every day or taking medication to treat hair loss seems unappealing to you, laser therapy may be an option. Also called low-level laser therapy, a few studies suggest that this may help:
Hereditary hair loss
Hair loss due to chemotherapy
Stimulate healing and hair growth after a hair transplant
Studies indicate that laser therapy is safe and painless but requires many treatment sessions. To see a bit of hair growth, you may need several treatments a week for many months.
What Is Androgenetic Alopecia
Almost every woman eventually develops some degree of female pattern hair loss. It can start any time after the onset of puberty, but women tend to first notice it around menopause, when hair loss typically increases. The risk rises with age, and it’s higher for women with a history of hair loss on either side of the family.
As the name suggests, androgenetic alopecia involves the action of the hormones called androgens, which are essential for normal male sexual development and have other important functions in both sexes, including sex drive and regulation of hair growth. The condition may be inherited and involve several different genes. It can also result from an underlying endocrine condition, such as overproduction of androgen or an androgen-secreting tumor on the ovary, pituitary, or adrenal gland. In either case, the alopecia is likely related to increased androgen activity. But unlike androgenetic alopecia in men, in women the precise role of androgens is harder to determine. On the chance that an androgen-secreting tumor is involved, it’s important to measure androgen levels in women with clear female pattern hair loss.
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What Are The Complications Of Hair Loss
Losing your hair whether the hair loss is temporary or permanent can be emotionally difficult for many people. Some types of hair loss can eventually lead to baldness.
If you lose significant hair, its important to protect your scalp. Wear a hat, scarf or other head covering when youre in the sun, and apply sunscreen daily. Sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.
You’re Getting Too Much Vitamin A
Overdoing vitamin A-containing supplements or medications can trigger hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Just FYI: The Daily Value for vitamin A is 5,000 International Units per day for adults and kids over age 4 supplements can contain 2,500 to 10,000 IU. So any more than that and you could risk some strands falling out.
The good news: This is also a reversible cause of hair loss, and once the excess vitamin A is halted, hair should start growing normally again.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- What is the cause of my hair loss?
- How many strands of hair am I losing per day?
- What type of hair loss do I have?
- Will my hair loss be permanent?
- Whats the best treatment for me?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Hair loss may cause you distress whether it happens because of genetics, a disease, or even stress. Know that there are some treatments you can try, and expert dermatologists are there to help you. Your hair loss may be able to be reversed. See your healthcare provider as soon as you notice something wrong because the sooner you start treatment, the better.
About Hair Loss Or Hair Thinning
Hair loss is one of the most well known side effects of cancer treatment. For many people losing their hair can be distressing and devastating.
It can be a constant reminder of your cancer and what youre going through. But for most people, their hair will grow back once treatment has finished.
Cancer drugs can cause:
- mild thinning of your hair
- partial hair loss, or loss of patches of hair
- complete hair loss
Chemotherapy is the type of cancer drug treatment most likely to cause hair loss.
Complete hair loss is very unlikely with any other type of treatment. But some other cancer drugs can cause hair thinning. It is not possible to tell beforehand who will be affected or how badly.
Hair loss also depends on factors such as:
- the type of drug or combination of drugs you are taking
- the dose
- the route
- how sensitive you are to the drug
- your drug treatment in the past
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What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Hair Loss
With an accurate diagnosis, many people who have hair loss can see hair regrowth. If you need treatment for regrowth, the earlier you start, the more likely you are to see regrowth.
Its important to understand that:
Not every type of hair loss can be treated, but a dermatologist may be able to prevent further hair loss.
It can take months before you see results from treatment.
No one treatment works for everyone, even two people with the same type of hair loss.
Sometimes, hair loss is stubborn and requires trying different treatments before finding one that works.
Self-care also plays an essential role in preventing and treating hair loss. To find out what dermatologists recommend, go to Hair loss: Self-care.
Images1,2: Getty Images
3: Property of the American Academy of Dermatology, A to Z Video Series
4: Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998 39:578-89.
ReferencesAdil A, Godwin M. The effectiveness of treatments for androgenetic alopecia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 77:136-141.
American Academy of Dermatology:
Research demonstrates potential of platelet-rich plasma therapy for hair loss News release issued March 1, 2019. Last accessed May 22, 2019.
New generation of laser and light therapies could provide future treatment options for skin, hair and nail conditions, News release issued March 16, 2012. Last accessed May 22, 2019.
Surgical And Physical Treatments
Medications and supplements also boost your bodily functions to grow hair and should take some time to actually produce results.
And these results might vary, as they promise a certain amount of success, unlike some surgical and physical treatments.
So lets take a look at these direct treatments that most consider as last resort, but experts and dermatologists agree should be considered as effective primary solutions:
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Why Hair Falls Out
Hair grows and eventually falls out as part of its normal cycle. It can build up on hair brushes, pillows, or shower drains.
Most people will not notice the natural hair loss that occurs daily. Hair thickness and the hairline usually remain the same.
People are more likely to notice excessive hair loss. This is a good time to take action as it may be due to an underlying condition. Symptoms of excessive hair loss include:
- sudden loss of hair
- noticeable thinning
There are several possible reasons for excessive hair loss.
One of the most common causes is due to genetics. According to a 2019 review, pattern baldness affects up to 50% of men and women.
Commercial products could help to slow and treat this type of balding. One example of these products is Rogaine.
Pattern baldness occurs slowly with aging. Some more immediate causes of hair loss include:
What Is The Relationship Between Hair Loss In Women And Menopause
During menopause, you might see one of two things happen with your hair. You might start growing hair where you didnt before. Or, you might see the hair you have start to thin. One cause may be changing levels of hormones during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone levels fall, meaning that the effects of the androgens, male hormones, are increased.
During and after menopause, hair might become finer because hair follicles shrink. Hair grows more slowly and falls out more easily in these cases.
Your healthcare provider will do a thorough examination and take a detailed history to help you deal with changes in hair growth. You may be directed to have your iron levels or thyroid hormone levels tested. Your medications might be changed if what you take is found to affect hair loss or growth.
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Can Certain Hairstyles Or Treatments Cause Hair Loss
Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents may cause inflammation of the hair follicle. This can result in scarring and hair loss.
Could Your Hair Loss Be Stress
Excessive levels of stress can cause hair loss in men and women. Many people do not realize that stress can have a physical impact on your body. Severe stress over the course of a few months can lead to extreme fatigue during the day and hair loss.
If you start to notice your hair thinning, eliminating stress is a great first step. You can start engaging in more activities you enjoy and try to decrease the number of extreme stressors in your life. If stress was the cause of your hair loss, then when your stress level decreases, it’s likely that your hair will grow back.
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Wigs Hair Pieces Or Hair Transplantation
Cosmetics such as hair sprays or hair colouring products, wigs and hair pieces can be effective to hide area with hair thinning. Hair transplantation has become more popular but not everyone is suitable for this procedure and it is expensive. Talk to your doctor to find out whether these treatments are suitable for you.
The Ministry of Health also provides a wig and hairpieces subsidy. Read more about the wigs and hair pieces subsidy to find out if you are eligible.
Key Points About Normal Hair Loss
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