Dealing with hair loss is not an easy task and causes both physical and mental stress. Hair loss is something, can not be avoided during cancer treatment. However, it is reversible and temporary in most of the cases, it is to be noted that it isn’t cancer that causes hair loss; it is the procedure that does.
According to the National Cancer Institute, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause hair loss or alopecia. Chemotherapy affects hair on the head and other parts of the body, while radiation therapy causes hair fall in that particular part of the body that is being treated.
Causes of Hair Fall During Cancer Treatment
- Chemotherapy: The drugs administered to the patient during this procedure damage the hair follicles, causing hair to fall. Each person gets affected differently, and hence it becomes difficult to predict whether the patient will lose hair in only certain parts or all over the body. Some drugs are also known to cause thinning of hair strands only and not lead to complete hair loss.
- Immunotherapy: Some of the drugs administered during Immunotherapy can cause hair to fall as well. In many cases, this begins to affect any time between six weeks to three months from the time of treatment. Other side effects of Immunotherapy include hair growth in unexpected parts of the body like excessive facial hair in women.
- Radiation Therapy: In the case of Radiation Therapy, the area targeted for treatment is the one which gets affected the most, and hence hair fall happens specifically in that particular region. This happens because Radiation Therapy focuses on the rapid destruction of cancerous cells and can sometimes affect normal cells as well. This results in thinning of hair and ultimately alopecia.
It’s important to find the strength to fight against it and accept that whatever is happening is a temporary thing. Some of the best cancer hospitals out there insist on certain measures that the patient can follow to sail through the process more smoothly.
Following are some of the effective ways that can help you deal with hair loss during cancer treatment
Accept that it is okay to feel unhappy
It is normal if you feel unhappy about something in your life. Accepting a difficult situation in life is an important step in the entire process, and you should be proud of yourself for having the courage to take it. Accepting hair fall will help you move on to the next stage, which is looking for ways to deal with it.
Try using silk pillow covers
Using silk pillow covers helps your hair to move freely while you sleep which decreases the chances of it getting damaged. In case of cotton covers, there are more chances of getting your hair clumped in one particular area, thus resulting in knots, fuzzy hair, or dry scalp, which increases hair fall.
Be gentle, and massage your scalp often with warm oil
Heat 2-3 tbsps of coconut oil with Amla pieces or 5-6 curry leaves, cool and massage onto the roots. Keep it overnight. Next morning, Wash it off with shampoo. Considering an age-old remedy to a wide array of hair problems, coconut oil helps promote hair growth and also nourishes your scalp, leading to a noticeable change in hair thickness and length.
Eat good protein-rich food
Managing your diet is very important while trying to maintain your hair fall. It should have good amounts of proteins in it as our hair roots are also made up of a protein called keratin. Popular protein-rich foods include dry fruits like almonds, walnuts and pistachios, lentils, eggs, fish, cottage cheese, and green leafy vegetables.
Try using an egg mask
For this, you have to add the yolk of about 2-3 eggs along with some Aloe Vera extracts. Apply this mask overnight and wash it off the next day. This can result in improved hair texture along with curbing hair breakage, split ends, and leading to stronger and thicker hair in the long run.
Try scalp-cooling caps
Scalp-cooling caps are now being advised as a way to deal with Hair loss caused by Chemotherapy. This decreases the amount of medicine reaching the hair roots by thinning down the blood vessels near the scalp. Since a lesser amount of medicine reaches the roots, the hair fall is expected to decrease slowly.
Consider shaving your hair all the way
After reaching a certain point in the cancer treatment, it might be difficult to control periodic hair fall. A lot of patients have trouble coping with it mentally. If you feel comfortable with shaving of your hair, then you must opt for it. Shaving your head beforehand might help make the entire process easier. There are a variety of hair coverings and wigs available that might work as a temporary solution until the end of the treatment. Remember that this is indeed temporary and that in most of the cases, the hair does grow back. Meanwhile, it might be fun to try some new hairstyles and experiment a little.
Going through Cancer Treatment is often described as nothing less than a battle. Don’t be afraid to open up and ask for help whenever necessary. Hair fall is one of the most obvious side effects of the treatment, and it can be difficult to deal with it alone. Remember that there are several ways to cope with it, as mentioned above.