Some cancer treatments can make your hair fall out, but wigs, cold caps and other products are available to help you cope.
Hair loss from cancer treatment can affect people in different ways. Some treatments cause only partial hair loss or thinning, while others cause people to lose hair from all over their body.
Different types of chemotherapy drugs have varying effects, while radiotherapy causes hair loss only in the area where treatment is focused. Your doctor or nurse can advise you about what to expect.
Planning for hair loss
If you would like to wear a wig, you may find it helpful to visit a wig specialist before your cancer treatment to help match your hair colour and style.
Cutting your hair
Some people are more comfortable cutting their hair very short before undergoing therapy. This can mean that hair loss will not seem as dramatic when it happens.
Cold caps during chemotherapy
A cold cap is a hat that is worn during some chemotherapy treatments. Its cooling effect reduces blood flow to the scalp, which also reduces the amount of chemotherapy medication that reaches this area. This can help prevent hair loss.
It’s usually worn for 15 minutes before each chemotherapy treatment, during treatment and for a certain amount of time post treatment, making your visit to the hospital longer. You can find out about scalp cooling caps on the Macmillan website.
This treatment is not always available, or suitable for all patients, – please discuss this with your oncology nurse.
Eyebrows, eyelashes and make-up
With some chemotherapy people might also lose their eyebrows and eyelashes. Make-up, eyebrow pencils, eyeliner or false eyelashes can help, and many cancer support groups have workshops to help patients learn these techniques.