You might not realise how valuable your hair is until you lose it. Furthermore, if you have cancer and are about to begin chemotherapy, you may start losing your hair. Hair loss is one of the most common side effects reported by both men and women following a cancer diagnosis. Discussing your concerns with your cancer care team and planning for hair loss may help you cope with this difficult side effect of treatment.
Chemotherapy drugs are extremely potent medications that target cancer cells that are rapidly growing. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body, including those in your hair roots. Chemotherapy can cause hair loss all over your body, not just on your scalp. Eyelash, brow, armpit, pubic, and other body hair may also fall out. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, and different doses can result in thinning to complete baldness. Fortunately, the majority of hair loss caused by chemotherapy is only temporary. Hair will regrow three to six months after treatment, though it may be a different colour or texture at first.
In fact, this hair loss issue undermines many cancer patients’ confidence, making them sad, depressed, and prone to anxiety, compromising their mental and emotional health, which is the most important aspect of cancer treatment. However, with advances in mental and emotional well-being, cancer patients now have someone to turn to in order to accept the changes their bodies are undergoing. Emotional Wellness Counselling, which is a coping mechanism to effectively deal with life and create satisfying relationships with oneself and others around you, is required for the same. This will assist them in regaining their self-confidence, reducing anxiety and depression, and ultimately assisting them in moving forward with their treatment, thereby increasing their chances of cure.
Common Questions Patients Ask:
- How much time will it take or how severe will it get? Will the hair loss become more severe or will it start lessening down ?
Hair loss typically starts one to three weeks after chemotherapy begins. Hairs on the scalp fall out first, followed by facial hair, body hair, and pubic hair a little later.
Most people’s hair begins to grow back a few weeks after chemotherapy ends. In fact, hair that grows back may be lighter or darker in some people, and it is often curlier than it was before (depending on their age). However, this is usually only a temporary condition.
- Will the hair be of the same texture, or will its texture, lustre and quality weaken or change?
The answer to this question is dependent on the patients’ age. If the patient is under the age of forty, there will be no changes in their re-grown hair. The hair spectrum, natural colour, and texture will all remain unchanged. However, if the age is over forty years, the main concern will be consistent regeneration. Hair regeneration may take longer in these patients, or the new hair may be of poor quality, mass, and volume. Because of its poor and thin quality, it may come and go again, causing the patient to experience hair loss. It does not, however, imply that the cancer has returned.
- How can I control my hair loss during chemo?
Wearing a scalp cooling cap during chemotherapy infusions may aid in hair loss prevention. These caps are thought to slow blood flow to the scalp. This may reduce the amount of chemotherapy medication that reaches your scalp and thus has less of an effect on your hair follicles.
Patients typically experience hair loss as a result of the medications they are given during chemo and radiation therapy. Some of the many drugs that cause hair loss during and after chemotherapy include adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, dactinomycin, docetaxel, and xeloda. In this case, the most effective treatment is NILINI Rasayana, which is the most reliable formulation available in Ayurvedic medical science for cancer patients. It is made from the herb and medicinal plant Nilini to create an oil and extract. According to experts, applying the oil and consuming the extract significantly reduces hair fall by up to 80%. Additionally, this formulation aids in the faster restoration of hair post-chemo.
Remarkably, this Ayurvedic medication has no side effects for 95% of patients. While only 5% of Stage 4 cancer patients experience side effects, they can be managed with dosage adjustments and home remedies.
In fact, this medication is not only limited to cancer patients; the general public can use it as well, however, with proper guidance, consultation, and dosage.
Along with it, experts recommend Omega capsules, Vitamins A, D, C, Zinc, and Iron supplements, as well as a proper high-nutrition diet, for hair re-growth and replenishment. Green vegetable soup, for example, should be consumed half an hour after meals. This aids in the absorption of antioxidants and flavonoids. In fact, Japan’s high health-index is due solely to this factor. Soups, on the other hand, are used as appetisers in India. We can only expect the best health outcomes if our bodies can absorb all nutrients, including antioxidants and flavonoids. It is therefore recommended that patients follow a proper anti-cancer diet in order to regrow hair of the highest quality.
Furthermore, when people living with cancer lose their hair, they may express confusion, sadness, embarrassment, anger, fear and many other emotions. Caregivers and parents can help their loved ones cope with hair loss by being present and providing practical and emotional support.
- Listen to and validate their feelings: Hair loss can elicit strong expressions of emotion as it signals a change in appearance that may impact self-esteem. In many cultures, hair can provide an exceptionally powerful sense of personal identity.
- Provide space for your loved one to process their feelings in ways that feel appropriate to them: Being present and listening can be powerful and help people with cancer feel supported.
- Provide practical support: If your loved one is interested in a wig or a similar alternative, offer to help them find a local wig clinic in your community. As hair loss can leave the scalp vulnerable to sunburn and treatment can cause skin to be more sensitive to the sun, you can help your loved one find the proper sunscreen and skin care products. Talk to your loved one’s health care team about local resources.
- Establish new routines and maintain existing connections: Physical changes can make your loved one self-conscious, and hair loss can serve as an external marker of one’s diagnosis and treatment experience. Ask your loved one what social situations they would feel most supported in. Consider engaging close friends and family in spaces of mutual comfort soon after hair loss occurs, as it can take loved ones time to adjust to physical changes as well.
- Stay active: Encourage your loved one to do yoga, practice meditation, listen to music or engage in other activities of interest to them. Relying on existing physical and mental routines can give people with cancer a sense of control and confidence, and can serve as outlets for processing feelings. Doctors can help provide insight on exercise routines for people of various ability levels to improve self-esteem, strength and health.
- Talk to your loved one about joining a support group: Support groups provide people with cancer a chance to meet one another and discuss commonalities and differences in their illness experiences. Groups can help people experiencing hair loss and other changing physical realities as people with cancer and professionals can share means of practical coping and provide emotional support. CancerCare offers free face-to-face, telephone and online support groups led by professional oncology social workers.
- Cope incrementally: Feelings about hair loss may change over time. Wearing a wig or head covering may or may not feel comfortable. Both you and your loved one should take the adjustment process one day at a time, and practise patience and seek professional support to help you both to cope with the impact of hair loss.
Managing hair loss with ZenOnco:
Hair loss occurs due to chemotherapy, which affects all cells in the body, not just cancer cells. Because cancer cells multiply quickly, the lining of the mouth, stomach, and hair follicles are especially vulnerable. Hair loss is a common complication of chemotherapy.
To learn more about Managing hair loss from our experts