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Hair Loss due to Chemotherapy

 

 Hair loss (alopecia) is a common side effect of chemotherapy, but not all drugs cause hair loss. Your doctor can tell you if hair loss might occur with the drug or drugs you are taking. When hair loss does occur, the hair may become thinner or fall out entirely. Hair loss can occur on all parts of the body, including the head, face, arms and legs, underarms, and pubic area. The hair usually grows back after the treatments are over. Some people even start to get their hair back while they are still having treatments. Sometimes, hair may grow back a different color or texture.

Hair loss does not always happen right away. It may begin several weeks after the first treatment or after a few treatments. Many people say their head becomes sensitive before losing hair. Hair may fall out gradually or in clumps. Any hair that is still growing may become dull and dry.

How can I care for my scalp and hair during chemotherapy?

 

* Use a mild shampoo.

* Use a soft hair brush.

* Use low heat when drying your hair.

* Have your hair cut short. A shorter style will make your hair look thicker and fuller. It also will make hair loss easier to manage if it occurs.

* Use a sun screen, sun block, hat, or scarf to protect your scalp from the sun if you lose hair on your head.

* Avoid brush rollers to set your hair.

* Avoid dying, perming, or relaxing your hair.

Some people who lose all or most of their hair choose to wear turbans, scarves, caps, wigs, or hair pieces. Others leave their head uncovered. Still others switch back and forth, depending on whether they are in public or at home with friends and family members. There are no "right" or "wrong" choices; do whatever feels comfortable for you.

If you choose to cover your head:

*

Get your prosthetic wig or hair system before you lose your hair. That way, you can match your current hair style and color as closely as possible when working with the licensed prosthetic salon that you choose.. We suggest working with a licensed salon that works specifically with women and hair loss. You also can buy a prosthetic wig or hair system through a licensed salon catalog such as http://www.studiointernational.net/

Take your wig to your hairdresser or the professional salon for styling and cutting to frame your face.

Some health insurance policies cover the cost of a hairpiece needed because of cancer treatment. It is also a tax-deductible expense. Be sure to check your policy and ask your doctor for a "prescription."

Losing hair from your head, face, or body can be hard to accept. Feeling angry or depressed is common and perfectly all right. At the same time, keep in mind that it is a temporary side effect. Talking about your feelings can help. If possible, share your thoughts with someone who has had a similar experience.


  

Celebrity Blog

Diem Brown Films Her Hair Loss After Cancer Treatment

Chemo hair loss video (what happens over 5 days)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBBfSG-kJLc&t=2m26s

 

Diem Brown: What Cancer Taught Me About Beauty

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fGJsySQdqM

 Diem Brown

In her PEOPLE.com blog, Diem Brown, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge contestant recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the second time, opens up about her desire for a child and the ups and downs of cancer and fertility procedures.

This week I wanted to do something a lil different. One, because I've been really quite ill and haven't been able to think straight through the medication haze to write a coherent blog. And two, because making a chemo hair loss video is something I have always wanted to do – video of the hair loss process was something I had searched for the first time I had cancer.

When I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I made the common mistake all patients do: I Googled! Yep, that dreaded Google search, where no matter what symptoms or disease you type in, it triggers the "Oh My Word, You're Dying" results.

I also Googled for images of people undergoing chemotherapy. I wanted to see what people looked liked going through chemo ... Scratch that – I wanted to see what girls my age looked like going through chemo. We have peer groups for a reason, and sometimes seeing someone who has gone through what you are about to go through is a massive aid when it comes to peace of mind.

So I Googled, and up popped Britney Spears
's head shave pictures and Natalie Portman's V for Vendetta head shave pictures. As lovely as these ladies are, they never went through chemo, so a head shave picture wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted to find a mid-treatment picture of a early 20-something girl going through chemo ... I wanted to see the bald pics.

Melissa Etheridge an Inspiration

I couldn't find any pictures that fit that criteria, but one picture did pop out at me. It was a picture of Melissa Etheridge at the 2005 Grammys. Yes, she was older, but she looked so strong, vibrant and beautiful.

Looking at her pictures triggered an old memory. I vaguely remember watching Melissa walk down that 2005 Grammy red carpet with a bald head. At first glance I remember thinking Melissa had just shaved her head with a Bic razor as some sort of rock 'n' roll statement. I was quickly informed that wasn't the case, and Melissa Etheridge was going through chemo for cancer.

I remember studying her picture on the Internet, amazed and proud she didn't throw on a wig ... she was bald, beautiful and strong! She had no fear, and her picture made me want to give early 20-somethings another image they could Google if facing cancer.

Questions Raised

I was also curious about the hair-loss process. I wanted to see how the hair falling out actually happened. Like, how fast did it happen? What does it feel like when it comes out? What does it look like while it's falling out?

So, because there were no videos or picture tutorials to gander at my first time around with cancer, I decided to make a video this time around. At my two-and-a-half week mark after my carbo/taxol chemo infusion treatment, I started recording my bi-nightly brushing of my hair ritual in order to show others what really goes on behind closed doors.

It's a funny roller coaster, and at the end of the video something happened that really shocked me. I wasn't prepared for it, but my inner Melissa Etheridge spirit kicked in, and I feel proud of how I handled it.

I hope this video helps in understanding and also helps give you a fascination fix on what goes on behind closed doors. It's raw, real, no makeup or care at all about what I look like. I just wanted to make my Google search contribution, so that future patients Googling hair loss during chemo can see exactly what happens when you don't shave it off. :)

Check back for updates every Thursday: Diem will be chronicling her journey through fertility treatments, chemotherapy and her quest to educate others about ovarian health exclusively for PEOPLE.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @DiemBrown.

More Diem Brown Blog Posts

Diem: Why I'm Sharing My Cancer Fight

Diem on Her Wig Obsession

See All Posts by Diem Brown


Cold Caps & Hair Loss

  Cold caps — tightly fitting, strap-on hats filled with gel that’s chilled to between -15 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit — may help some women keep some of their hair during chemotherapy. Because the caps are so cold, they narrow the blood vessels beneath the skin of the scalp, reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine that reaches the hair follicles. With less chemotherapy drugs in the follicles, the hair may be less likely to fall out.

During each chemotherapy session, you wear the caps for:

  • 20 to 50 minutes before
  • during
  • after each chemotherapy session (the amount of time you wear the cap after the chemotherapy session depends on the type of chemotherapy you’re getting)

You may will have to change the caps several times during the chemotherapy treatment. Each cap is usually worn for about 30 minutes; then it warms up and is replaced with a new cap.

Because the caps are so cold, some women get a headache while wearing the cap. Most women get very cold, so it makes sense to dress warmly and bring warm blankets with you if you decide to try the cold caps.

Women who use cold caps during chemotherapy are advised to baby their hair during treatment:

  • no blow drying, hot rollers, or straightening irons
  • shampoo only every third day with cool water and a gentle shampoo
  • no coloring until 3 months after chemotherapy is done
  • gentle combing and brushing

The cost of using the caps varies depending on the manufacturer, the number of chemotherapy sessions you’ll be having, and the number of months you’ll be using the caps. Some users have said the cost of the caps is comparable to the cost of a having a wig made. Your insurance carrier will not cover the cost of renting the caps.

It’s important to know that some doctors are concerned that the caps may prevent the chemotherapy drugs from reaching cancer cells that may be in the scalp. Several U.S. studies are underway to look at the safety and effectiveness of the caps. At this time, none of the caps have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

It’s also important to know that cold caps don’t work for everyone, so best prepare yourself in advance..


 


 

A positive attitude when dealing with hair loss….

What to do about it—

Losing your hair can be unpleasant and difficult to cope with. Your best counsel on how to deal with these side effects which are causing your hair loss is your medical health team..

 It may also be difficult to cope with your personal reaction to hair loss. After all, you’ve lived with your hair for a long time. It is a part of your personality and who you are. Now, your hair loss will be a visible sign that something is happening.

How do you explain it? Is it necessary to explain it at all? And how will you react to the change in your self -image with hair loss?

Dealing with these questions is a challenge to most people. It’s a challenge you can now face, and face confidently. For one thing, you know in advance that the hair loss is likely to happen. And you know why. You won’t have to explain your hair loss when you plan in advance to do something about it.

Take care of this as soon as possible, before the hair loss occurs. Finding a hair prostheses or prosthetic wig now will allow you to “adjust” to it on your own terms, not when you do not have the choice. It will make the transition easier

 Best advice, plan accordingly

 



 
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