Cancer is one of the most devastating diseases known to man. This disease has claimed an untold number of lives, and it continues to be a serious issue that many medical researchers work tirelessly to cure. That said, depending on the type of cancer, some treatments are available. One of the types of treatment for cancer is known as chemotherapy. This type of treatment uses radiation to destroy the cancer cells in your body over the course of several appointments. Unfortunately, this also destroys the healthy cells that your body needs to function properly. This can cause a variety of issues that end up making your health weaker. As a result, you may find yourself experiencing significant loss of hair, among other things.
Hair loss, while not the most dangerous of symptoms on its own, isn’t anything to scoff at. Many of us don’t realize how hair loss can affect our self-confidence. When we begin to physically deteriorate due to the chemotherapy that we’re receiving, it’s not without its mental effects. For some people, hair loss can be a sign to the world that you’re undergoing cancer treatment. As you may already know, some people have a tendency to change how they react to you whenever they find out you have cancer. This can cause a lot of complicated feelings compounded by the stress of serious illness. The last thing that anyone with chemotherapy needs to do is shut themselves off from their support systems. Are you struggling to handle hair loss as a result of chemotherapy? Here’s what all chemo patients should know about hair loss during this time and how it can affect you.
The Specifics of Chemotherapy and Hair Loss
As mentioned previously, chemotherapy will attack the cancer cells in your body to prevent them from spreading or growing. Unfortunately, this attacks all other healthy cells in your body. All the hair on your body such as your eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic hair, and other pieces of hair throughout your body may begin to fall off. According to the National Cancer Institute, around 65% of chemotherapy patients experience complete hair loss during this procedure. This can alter your appearance drastically and thus affect your self-confidence in negative ways. In addition, it can be alarming to experience such drastic changes so quickly. You’ll need to talk to your hair loss doctor about the options you have to help you overcome these issues. Be sure to ask a professional today to learn more about the hair loss services they have to offer, as there are a wide variety of treatments available for hair loss based on the wide variety of causes.
The Timeframe of Hair Loss and Chemotherapy
It has been noted that your hair will more than likely begin falling out after just two to four weeks of chemotherapy treatment. Depending on the individual, it could fall out more quickly or begin thinning over time. You may wake up one morning and find clumps of your hair in your bed, or it may fall out whenever you shower. Your scalp may end up feeling sore after chemotherapy treatments. It’s common for hair to continuously fall out until it’s completely gone. This may happen until your chemotherapy treatment is finished, or even for some time after. This is largely determined by physiology, which varies significantly from one of us to the next.
How to Deal With Emotions and Cancer
It’s completely understandable for an individual to experience intense emotions when they’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis. They may feel angry that they’re being affected when everyone else is fine. They may be grieving their own potential death. They may feel overwhelmed with fear at how their life has turned upside down. Losing hair is a lot like a scarlet letter for some people. It makes them feel like they stand out whenever they’re in public and among their friends. This can in turn begin feeding into the negative thought loop which can make your condition much worse. When it comes to negative thought loops, it can feel impossible to break out.
There’s scientific evidence that hope and positive thinking are some of the greatest tools alongside medical breakthroughs to overcome cancer. If negative thinking can negatively affect your health, then it stands to reason that positive thinking will be beneficial comparatively. Your hair loss doctor can help you through the hair loss part of chemotherapy and, in turn, can help your self-confidence.
Your Hair Will Grow Back
It may take several months for your hair to grow back after your chemotherapy sessions have ended, but it will eventually come back. This is due to the fact that your body is growing new cells for hair growth that’ll begin to function normally. However, it should be noted that the hair you find growing in after your chemotherapy sessions may look and feel somewhat different from the hair you had before. Some of the hair may end up being curlier, a different color, or it could just be gray like an older person’s hair. This new hair is oftentimes a temporary effect and your natural hair will likely begin to grow back in time.
How to Mitigate Symptoms
While there’s no guarantee that hair loss treatment can prevent you from losing hair entirely, efforts can still be made to mitigate the damage. Your hair loss doctor may recommend a scalp cooling cap that’ll slow the flow of blood to your scalp. This is done to prevent the effects of chemotherapy drugs on your hair. Another option for hair loss prevention is Minoxidil, which is better known as Rogaine. However, this treatment option doesn’t outright prevent hair loss but rather can speed up the hair growth recovery cycle after your chemotherapy treatments have been finished. While there are no guaranteed ways to prevent hair loss from happening, new methods continue to make breakthroughs over time. The medical field is always working on ways to help people with their hair loss problems.
What to Do During Chemotherapy
Here are some quick solutions that you can look into to mitigate the damage of hair loss from chemotherapy:
- Treat your hair fairly rather than harshly. Don’t do anything to change the color of your hair before chemotherapy, especially with bleach. You want to preserve your hair naturally as much as possible since untreated hair is stronger.
- Cutting your hair can make all the difference. Shorter hair can look much fuller than long hair with the right styling. This means that if some of your hair does begin to fall out, your hair will look fuller and less noticeable when you’re going through chemotherapy.
- Start looking for caps that are fashionable to wear over your head. Oftentimes, some of these caps are stylish and can cover your head attracting too much unwanted attention.
Cancer is such a dangerous disease and its effects are unfathomable on an individual’s life. Fortunately, there are teams of cancer experts out there that can help you overcome the horrifying process of beating cancer. Your hair loss doctor is an important part of your care team who can help you whenever you need it the most. Remember, you must use everything you can to lift your spirits during these trying times and hair-loss treatments are one of the more immediate ways to do this. Need help with hair loss? Give us a call at Arsenault Dermatology to learn more about our options.