Chemotherapy and Hair Loss
Chemotherapy and hair loss are closely associated. When an individual is undergoing chemotherapy, all body cells which are rapidly dividing are targeted. This includes the cancer cells as well as healthy cells. The hair follicles are known to grow very fast and hence chemotherapy hair loss occurs. In normal circumstances, the hair follicles undergo division after 23 – 72 hours. However in individuals undergoing chemotherapy, the hair cells are targeted and destroyed. Hair loss usually occurs just a few weeks after starting the treatment.
Hair Loss Due To Chemotherapy
Hair loss due to chemotherapy may be gradual in some individuals. It can also occur quite dramatically in some people. Many individuals notice clumps of hair in combs, on the pillow and in the bathroom drain. This can be a disturbing side effect and is it important that individuals undergoing chemotherapy receive adequate support from family and friends. Some drugs used in chemotherapy may only affect the scalp hair. Other drugs can affect the eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, arms, legs and pubic area. The type of drugs used in the therapy will determine how extensive the hair loss is. This is because there are many different classes of chemotherapy drugs and all have different effects. The scheduling of the treatment will also affect the manner in which hair loss occurs. Some chemotherapy treatments are administered every week in smaller doses. The hair loss is minimized in such cases. Other treatments may have to be administered after 3 to 4 weeks in higher doses. This is likely to increase the hair loss.
Unfortunately chemotherapy hair loss prevention is not possible. There are no medications or treatments that help to stop the hair loss. However, the hair does grow back about 6 – 8 weeks after the treatment. The hair that grows back after treatment may be different in texture and color. There are some ways that one can cope with hair loss caused by chemotherapy. It is advisable to keep the hair short as it is easier to maintain. Shorter hair makes wearing of wigs also easier. Some people prefer to shave their heads when hair loss starts occurring. Those who feel conscious about the hair loss can make use of hats and scarves. During chemotherapy, it is important not to use chemicals on the hair in the form of hair coloring or other styling treatments. Gentle shampoos are beneficial and can be used after 3 to 5 days to keep the hair and scalp clean.