Chemotherapy and Hair Loss: Can it be Combatted?


ChemoFor many in cancer treatment, chemotherapy is a drug that allows patients to fight cancer cells and hopefully enter remission. Hair loss is a side effect of the drug, which can be hard for the millions of women diagnosed each year. Scientific breakthroughs mean there are new and exciting ways to combat this side effect. Let’s look at some of the options.

Cold Caps and Freezing

A cold cap is wearable technology that aims to save hair during chemotherapy treatment. By cooling the hair capillaries, these caps reduce the hair to a hibernated state preventing the drugs from absorbing into the scalp. Research shows the results are mixed. One study involving 122 women with stage 1 or stage 2-breast cancer showed that two-thirds of the patients saw loss of only half of their hair. While doctors have expressed concerns about scalp hypothermia, the FDA clears a majority of these caps. Caps are available for patients to purchase or rent during treatment.

Hair Stimulants

Another method women can use to prevent or halt hair loss during chemotherapy is the application of hair stimulant medication. Hair stimulants are often associated with male pattern baldness, but application during chemotherapy can stimulate hair follicles and allow the hair to grow back faster during the chemotherapy process. While there is no scientific evidence that these drugs can prevent hair loss during treatment, there are plenty of testimonials to their effectiveness in the months after chemotherapy ends.

Tips for Hair Maintenance During Chemotherapy

If you are already undergoing chemotherapy and have experienced hair loss, maintaining your scalp and remaining hair can be key to regrowth when treatment is complete.

Tips for scalp maintenance during chemotherapy include:

Using soft brushes and shampoo for sensitive skin

Shave your remaining hair to prevent irritation

Protect your scalp with sunscreen or a covering

Hair loss doesn’t have to be the defining moment of your cancer treatment. Beautiful scarves can be tied in a variety of ways to create looks for every occasion. Fake eyelashes and wigs have evolved over the years, and some are designed to look completely natural. Wigs also give you the chance to switch hair colors and textures throughout your treatment.

It’s important to realize that everyone deals with hair loss differently. While some are quick to embrace their new look, some cancer patients need more time and space to adjust to a drastic chance in their appearance. Remember: whether you seek treatment to preserve your hair during treatment or work through hair loss, there is no right or wrong when it comes to making it through chemotherapy.

If you’re suffering from hair loss due to chemotherapy or any other medical condition Van Scoy Hair Clinics can assist you with hair loss alternatives. We invite you to meet privately with one of our hair loss professionals who will assist you in choosing how to proceed during this difficult time. To schedule a free consultation call us at (419) 289-6665 or to contact us via email click here.


Photo Credit: Candace Nast Via Flickr Creative Commons