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How Do I Cope With Hair Loss?

Learn how you can best cope with chemotherapy-induced​ hair loss, both physically and emotionally.

How Do I Cope With Hair Loss?

“Many people find losing their hair difficult. Your hair may help form part of your sense of self – its loss can affect your self-confidence and make you feel sad or vulnerable. For many people, it’s a public sign of the cancer diagnosis. Talking to your treatment team may help.” – source: cancercouncil.com.au

Many cancer organizations share their tips on coping with chemotherapy-induced​ hair loss, both physically and emotionally. We’ve curated a list of all the best tips. Oh, and you can submit your tips or add comments to tips submitted by others.

#1 Make hair loss less scary

"Get informed. Not all drugs will affect your hair the same way. Some only cause gradual hair thinning. Others may cause your hair to fall out in clumps. Make hair loss less scary by asking your doctor what exactly will happen." - source: webmd.com

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#2 Share your feelings

"It's normal to feel anxious, depressed, or self-conscious about losing your hair. Women often have a harder time with it than men. A support group can connect you with others going through the same thing. They can share your feelings and offer advice." - source: webmd.com

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#3 Cooling cap

"If you are going to get chemotherapy that might cause hair loss, talk to your health care team about whether a cooling cap might help reduce your risk. More research is being done to understand how effective and safe cooling caps may be. There are some side effects of cooling caps to consider, such as headaches, scalp pain, and neck and shoulder discomfort. Talk to your health care team about the benefits, limitations, and side effects of cooling caps." - source: cancer.org

“If having scalp cooling - Try not to wash your hair for about two days after chemotherapy, especially if having scalp cooling” – source: breastcancercare.org.uk

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#4 Programs that provide free wigs, hats, or scarves

"Many cancer centers offer resources to people who are experiencing hair loss. Some may even have programs that provide free wigs, hats, or scarves. Talk with a social worker, nurse, or other member of your health care team about options your center has to offer. There are also national programs that offer self-image assistance, such as the Look Good Feel Better program. This program is open to all women who are undergoing cancer treatment. It is designed to help women learn how to manage appearance-related side effects, including hair loss. The American Cancer Society has a free wig program for people who financially qualify in some locations. And, there are several efforts to provide free scarves and hats, such as the Hope Scarves program, the Good Wishes program, and the Heavenly Hats program; they all send a head covering to patients upon request." - source: cancer.net

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#5 Minoxidil (Rogaine)

"Applying minoxidil — a drug approved for hair loss — to your scalp before and during chemotherapy isn't likely to prevent your hair loss, although some research shows it may speed up your hair regrowth. More research is needed to understand whether minoxidil is effective in regrowing hair after cancer treatment." - source: mayoclinic.org

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#6 Wigs

"If you plan to get a wig, try to visit your hairdresser or a wig store before you lose your hair. This allows you to match the wig to your hair color and style. Some people choose one or more wigs in a completely different style and color. Certain insurance companies will supplement or cover the cost of a wig, but you must submit a prescription from your doctor for a “cranial prosthesis” or “hair prosthesis.” Frequently, cancer treatment centers will have wig banks where you can get a refurbished or new wig for free or a small fee." - source: cancersupportcommunity.org

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#7 If a custom wig is too expensive

"consider purchasing a less expensive wig and having it professionally styled. Most wig salons offer this service and the combined cost is significantly less expensive than a custom wig." - source: oncolink.org

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#8 Moisturising of the scalp

"gentle massage and moisturising of the scalp can be invigorating and reduce flaky areas" source: cancervic.org.au

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#9 To avoid making hair fall out faster

"- Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner to lessen the pull on hair while combing. Try to stay away from shampoos with lots of chemicals that can dry out your scalp. Avoid shampoos and conditioners with strong fragrances, alcohol or salicylic acid.
- Using or sleeping in hair curlers can pull on the hair and cause it to fall out quicker.
-Try to avoid coloring, bleaching or perming your hair at this point--it could weaken it and make it fall out faster." - source: uihc.org

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#10 Choose to shave your head

"Some people choose to cut their hair short to make it easier to deal with when it starts to fall out. Others choose to shave their head. If you choose to shave your head, use an electric shaver so you won’t cut yourself. If you plan to buy a wig, get one while you still have hair so you can match it to the color of your hair. If you find wigs to be itchy and hot, try wearing a comfortable scarf or turban." - source: cancer.gov

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#11 Use an electric razor

"if you choose this option. Cuts are more likely when using a hand razor. Since chemotherapy makes it harder for your immune system to fight infections, you want to avoid such injuries." - source: healthgrades.com

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#12 Preparing children

"If you have children of any age, you may wonder how and what to tell them. In general, children are less frightened when they know what is going on, even if they do not fully understand it. Despite it being difficult, talking to your children about your cancer will be helpful to all of you. It can prepare them for what to expect.

It may help to explain that your hair will grow back and what you plan to wear while it is gone. Children will react differently and some may find it upsetting to see you without your hair. But talking about it openly in your home will help them feel more secure." - source: cancer.ie

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#13 General tips for hair loss or thinning

"- Use gentle hair products such as baby shampoos
- If your scalp flakes or itches this means it is dry – use oil or moisturiser, not dandruff shampoo" - source: cancerresearchuk.org

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#14 Satin or silk pillowcase

"Use a satin or silk pillowcase to decrease hair friction and tangles." - source: dana-farber.org

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#15 Use makeup to accent other features

"Use eyebrow pencil, or even try fake eyelashes." - source: dana-farber.org

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#16 Wigs, turbans, scarves and hats

"Some people choose to wear a wig, hat, scarf, turban or beanie after losing their hair, others prefer not to wear anything on their head.

The important thing is to do whatever makes you feel comfortable and gives you the most confidence.

• Scarves usually need to be at least 50 cm long to cover the scalp. Cotton, lightweight wools or blends are the best fabrics to use as nylon or silk tend to slip off the head too easily. Scarves can be tied in lots of different ways.
• A beanie, soft cap, or turban is often a comfortable choice.
• Bucket hats are popular and they offer more protection for the face." - source: cancercouncil.com.au

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#17 Be creative!

"Use colorful scarves, turbans or hats. Make sure your headwear is not too tight or irritating to your scalp." - source: mdanderson.org

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#18 Hair loss and your partner

"Hair is sexy — there's no getting around it. Losing your hair may make you feel less attractive and seductive. Of course, the intimacy you have with your partner, or can establish with a new partner, doesn't necessarily depend on looks. Appearance is a minor player in the bigger scope of what draws people to one another.

You and your partner have to come to terms with the other changes to your body, including loss of part or all of your breast. You may be able to apply some of those same coping skills to dealing with sparse hair or no hair: experimenting and communicating about what you both feel comfortable with." - source: breastcancer.org

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#19 Look after your hair

"Wash your hair at least every two days."

"When drying your hair with a towel, don’t rub hard." - source: macmillan.org.uk

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#20 When you go outside

"Protect your scalp when you go outside. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or scarf, or use sunscreen on the scalp. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyelashes." - source: cancer.ca

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#21 In cold weather

"Wear a hat or scarf in cold weather to reduce the loss of body heat." - source: bccancer.bc.ca

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#22 Use a soft-bristle brush

"Use a soft-bristle brush and avoid too much brushing or pulling of hair (avoid braiding or placing hair in a pony tail)." - source: cancercenter.com

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#23 If your hair is likely to thin from chemotherapy

"Try to use a lukewarm water in the shower as hot showers are harsh on the scalp."

"When fastening hair, avoid using hair fasteners or hair ties. Pins or crocodile clips are best."

"If you colour your hair, ask your hairdresser to use/recommend an organic (vegetable-based) hair colour which will be gentle on your hair and scalp. These may have to be ordered in for you." - source: bcna.org.au

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#24 Consult with a Dermatologist

"A dermatologist can help address issues around skin sensitivity that may result from losing hair on your scalp and other areas of the body. They can also suggest topical drug formulations such as such as minoxidil for the scalp and bimatoprost for the eyelashes that may be used to speed up the regrowth of hair post-treatment." - source: mskcc.org

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#25 If you’re black or from an ethnic minority

"If you're a black or minority ethnic patient with hair loss, you may need to find a wig that suits you from a specialist wig store.

Your nurse or specialist can tell you where you can find suppliers, and you may find the site Cancer Black Care useful." - source: nhs.uk

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#26 Make the most out of your appearance

"Buy a new pair of earrings or a pretty, colorful scarf." - source: webmd.com

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#27 If the eyebrows start to thin

"try using a clear or colored brow gel. These can be found at any discount or department store. A brow pencil can also be used to fill in gaps. Another option is to use eyeglasses with heavy colored frames. You can find these with or without a prescription." - source: uihc.org

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#28 Reduce the irritation

"Some people report that their scalps feel itchy, sensitive and irritated during their treatments and while their hair is falling out. Shaving your head can reduce the irritation and save the embarrassment of shedding." - source: mayoclinic.org

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#29 Cut short before your treatment starts

"Think about having your hair cut short before your treatment starts - this might help you get used to seeing yourself with less hair"

"Some people shave their hair off completely to avoid the distress of seeing their hair fall out" - source: cancerresearchuk.org

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#30 Hair breaks more easily when wet

"Don't brush your hair when it is wet (hair breaks more easily when wet)" - source: verywellhealth.com

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#31 Digni-Cap

"There is also a FDA-approved cold-cap that can help during chemo treatment for both men and women. Known as the Digni-Cap, it works by cooling the scalp to reduce the likelihood of alopecia in people with cancer." - source: medicalnewstoday.com

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#32 Apply Vitamin E Oil

"Apply Vitamin E Oil to your Scalp. Nature is a funny thing and the scalp tries to hold onto the hair for dear life which lends to some discomfort, pain and itching. Vitamin E oil is really helpful for minimizing pain and itching. Just rub the oil on your scalp as often as you like." - source: whoorl.com

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#33 Dark leafy greens

"Dark leafy greens. Kale, Swiss chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens are good sources of vitamins A and C, which the body needs to produce the oily substance sebum, a natural conditioner for your hair." - source: sherrystrong.org

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#34 ShaveMyHead

"Some people find it helpful to try an app such as ShaveMyHead, which shows you how you will look without hair. Family and friends can also join in." - source: lymphoma-action.org.uk

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#35 Diets to include ingredients that can be beneficial to hair growth

"To promote healthier hair growth, individuals may want to try changing their diets to include ingredients that can be beneficial to hair growth and health. The following are some foods to try.

Salmon: Salmon and other fatty fish contain omega-3 acids that can fuel shiny, full hair. The body does not make omega-3s, so they must be acquired through food.

Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt contains an ingredient known as pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5. This can help improve blood flow to the scalp and also may assist against hair thinning and loss.

Iron: Iron contained in organ meats, fortified cereals, whole grains, and legumes can protect against hair loss.

Eggs: Rich in biotin, eggs can help hair grow. Biotin also helps strengthen brittle fingernails.

Avocados: Avocado contains healthy oils that can fight dry hair and promote shine." - source: chicagotribune.com

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#36 Be aware of social stigmas

"Most people are kind, especially if they know you’re battling cancer. However, there are still some social stigmas attached to hair loss and cancer, such as robbing the person of privacy about their illness and lowering of status. These may cause you stress, anxiety, or embarrassment. Confronting negativity and your own feelings may help you get your feelings and focus on promoting your health.
See a counselor or doctor to help you actively manage your feelings. Friends and loved ones can also provide you with support." - source: wikihow.com

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#37 Add volume to thinning hair

"If your hair is thinning as a result of chemo, adding a little volume to it can make it look fuller and healthier. Consider options such as updos, a shorter and layered style, or a side part.
- Consider a shorter style with light layering, This can add extra fullness to your hair and distract from thinning areas.
- Part hair to one side to give the illusion of more fullness.
- Pull your hair up in a loose ponytail or bun. You can even boost it a bit more by wrapping one piece of hair around the hair tie. Adding a headband to the front can also make your hair look fuller." - source: wikihow.com

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#38 Host a haircut party

"One option for cutting your hair before it falls out is to host a haircut party with your closest friends or family. Make it an event where loved ones can offer support through your chemotherapy. Enlist the help of your favorite stylist and experiment with different haircuts, getting shorter and shorter with each style. Finally give yourself the chance to see what you look like with a bob, a shag, and a pixie cut. Before the final buzz, get crazy with a daring mohawk, which will remind you of your courage and fighting spirit in the face of adversity. Have fun snapping some pictures along the way to document the experience. Let your friends vote on the best looks. You may even find a new favorite style that you can look forward to sporting once your hair grows back." - source: lotsahelpinghands.com

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#39 Cosmetic techniques

"Learn about cosmetic techniques to compensate for lost eyebrows or lashes. Make-up can be used to create the illusion of brows and lashes." - source: cancerconnect.com

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#40 Mineral oil

"Apply mineral oil to your scalp to ease dryness." - source: lls.org

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#41 Castor oil

"Many people try castor oil to promote healthy hair regrowth of the scalp, lashes and brows. If you do this, use organic castor oil and know that results may vary." - source: clevelandclinic.org

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