One of the most commonly occurring side effects of chemotherapy is extreme hair loss and alopecia. Chemotherapy uses cytostatic drugs to destroy cancer cells that may divide too rapidly or not grow as quickly, because these drugs are unable to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy cells, and attack any that are perceived as threats.
This means these drugs also kill other cells such as the ones in our hair follicles that help hair grow long and healthy, which is why chemotherapy leads to rapid loss of hair and takes longer for the hair to grow back while the treatment is ongoing. This can look different for people depending on the kind of cancer they have, among other factors. The best person to guide you about the kind of hair loss you can expect is your doctor.
When you first begin to experience hair loss, it can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. We live in a culture that associates beauty and hair intrinsically. Hair is seen as a symbol of femininity, sexuality, and so much more. It’s a source of pride, and self-expression, and losing it can be incredibly difficult.
If you’re struggling with your self-confidence you are not alone. Here are some ways you can handle hair loss from chemotherapy.
Be gentle with yourself and your hair
Ask your doctor for full disclosure regarding the impact of the treatment on your hair. Will it cause your hair to fall out or simply thin? This will help you emotionally prepare for what’s to come. You can consider your options and take time getting used to the idea of shaving your head. During this time, you should also be gentle with your hair and avoid intensive hair treatments such as perming, coloring, etc. Air dry your hair and avoid using heat styling tools too often.
Take care of your scalp during the treatment
When you’re undergoing treatment, you should try to protect your scalp as much as possible from the sun or cold. Use gentle sun protection products for your hair and cover your head as much as you can.
Consider alternate options for styling yourself
Your hair will grow back and while it may look different, it’s a testament to your strength and tenacity. Be patient while it grows and keep taking care of your scalp. You can try out a series of wigs and hair extensions installation options to experiment with your look and style.
Make sure you buy a wig prior to or during the initial stages of treatment and opt for an adjustable style, so you can fix it when you start to lose hair. If you want a wig that matches your hair color, match it to the hair closest to your roots as this is the lightest shade of your hair. After all, there’s no better time than now to experiment with your look, embrace this new phase of your life with grace, and truly live life on your own terms. You’re getting a shot at healing and why not celebrate every moment, dressing up for yourself, and doing all that you’ve ever wanted?
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