Rapid Hair Loss: Chemotherapy

Hair loss, chemotherapy…for many people, the two seem to always go together. What is Chemotherapy and why does it cause hair loss? It is a treatment for cancer that aggressively kills cancer cells. Unfortunately, this treatment involves the use of very strong drugs that also kill healthy cells, including the cells in hair follicles. This can lead to rapid hair loss, first causing the thinning of hair and eventually complete baldness.

Chemo hair loss can occur on any part of your body that grows hair – head, arms, face, legs, and pubic areas, and for most people can be very difficult to deal with emotionally. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this form of hair loss; however, keep in my mind that chemo and hair loss are not synonymous. The therapy and its side effects vary from case to case, so you should check with your doctor so you know what to expect. You may not lose any hair at all.

Below is a list of the most common questions people have about hair loss from chemo.

At what point will hair loss begin?
The hair loss usually begins somewhere between 7 and 21 days after starting the treatment.

How will the hair loss happen?

The person’s scalp may feel tingly or painful. The hair loss can happen gradually, or in severe cases, the person may experience rapid hair loss.

When will hair start to regrow?
Hair regrowth can sometimes start near the end of treatment, or shortly after finishing the treatment.

How long does it take to regrow all of one’s hair?
It usually takes about 3 to 12 months.

Will the hair be the same once it grows back?
Sometimes people will notice that their hair has changed color slightly, or could even have a slightly different texture when it grows back. This is normal, and not a cause for alarm, although it is always a good idea to check with a doctor.

Although there is no cure for hair loss due to chemotherapy, there are some things you can do to prevent losing your hair even faster. Proper care is important, and you should use a mild shampoo and be gentle with your hair. Do not use any strong or chemical hair products, nor items such as hair dryers and hair curlers.

Chemo and hair loss that results from it can be very hard to deal with for many people. If this is the case, one option is to buy a wig, which many people do. If you are only experiencing mild hair loss, you can try using hair products that mask thinning hair.

Rapid hair loss is only one of the many side effects experienced from chemotherapy treatment. Luckily it is only temporary, and you will one day be able to grow it all back.

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