The Effects Of Chemotherapy On Your Hair, And What You Can Do About It

For many people, chemotherapy is stressing enough without the added stress of hair loss. While some people consider the associated hair loss as a badge of honor and a sign of courage, there are still many who would prefer to attempt keeping as much of their hair as possible. Here's what you need to know about chemotherapy and hair loss.

Why Chemotherapy Causes Hair Loss

Chemotherapy drugs attack rapid growing cells. While this works well for quickly replicating cancer cells, your other, natural fast growing cells also fall victim. These cells include your hair cells, and not just the ones that grow out the top of your head. However, there are a few things you should know about the hair loss caused by chemotherapy.

  • Hair loss is not a guarantee – Chemotherapy drugs vary. Some can cause more hair loss than others. You may lose your hair or just lose a little volume. In some cases you may not lose your hair at all.
  • Hair loss is typically temporary – In the majority of cases, hair will start growing back after some time. Your hair cells will repair themselves. However, the hair that comes back in isn't always the same as the hair you lost.

In addition, radiation therapy can also cause you to lose hair. If the radiation is directed at your head, or anywhere else you grow hair, you will likely lose the hair. But the same aforementioned rules apply.

Just Going With It

Some people choose to accept the possibility of hair loss rather than trying to combat it. In such a case you can take care of your hair as you go through treatments with hopes of keeping some or all of it.

Otherwise, you can shave your head in anticipation. If you do lose your hair, you can choose to use a wigs, hats or scarves to cover it if you so choose.

Keeping Your Hair with Cryotherapy

There are no guaranteed ways to keep your hair throughout chemotherapy. However, cryotherapy is the main method available that can help you greatly in your efforts to keep your hair. Cryotherapy involves using cold on your scalp to constrict the blood vessels to slow the blood.

The hope is that slowing of the blood flow will also slow the effects of the chemo drugs in that area as well. That means the cell activity will slow down and not attract the notice of the chemo. One of the most effective means of carrying out cryotherapy is with cold caps.

Cold caps are cooled pieces of headgear that you can wear before and after chemotherapy sessions. There are many different cap systems, but they all operate on the same principles. Speak to your physician about the likelihood of hair loss, and whether cold caps can work as a viable solution for you.