Managing the effects of Chemotherapy
Hair loss during chemotherapy: Why does it occur?
Chemotherapy drugs are powerful medications that attack rapidly growing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also attack other rapidly growing cells in your body — including those in your hair roots.
Chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over your body — not just on your scalp. Sometimes your eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic and other body hair also falls out. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, and different doses can cause anything from a mere thinning to complete baldness. Talk to your doctor or nurse about the medication you'll be taking. Your doctor or nurse can tell you what to expect.
Fortunately, most of the time hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary. You can expect to regrow your hair 3 to 10 months after your treatment ends, though your hair may temporarily be a different shade or texture.
Chemotherapy and hair loss: What should you expect?
Hair usually begins falling out one to three weeks after you start treatment. It could fall out very quickly in clumps or gradually. You’ll likely notice accumulations of loose hair on your pillow, in your hairbrush or comb, or in your sink or shower drain. Your scalp may feel tender.
Your hair loss will continue throughout your treatment and up to a few weeks afterwards. Whether your hair thins or you become completely bald will depend on your treatment.
It may take several weeks after treatment for your hair to recover and begin growing again. When your hair starts to grow back, it will probably be slightly different from the hair you lost. But the difference is usually temporary. Your new hair might have a different texture or colour. It might be curlier than it was before, or it could be gray until the cells that control the pigment in your hair begin functioning again.
Chemotherapy and hair loss: Can hair loss be prevented?
No treatment exists that can guarantee your hair won’t fall out during or after chemotherapy. The best way for you to deal with impending hair loss is to plan ahead and focus on making yourself comfortable with your appearance before, during and after your cancer treatment.
Managing the Effects
Many clients who experience hair loss during chemotherapy visit Lucinda Ellery to help manage their hair loss until treatment ends and their hair grows back.
More and more ladies are choosing to use our services during their Chemotherapy treatment so that any hair loss is disguised through the use of the Intralace System™.
The Intralace System™ is a highly effective way of managing both the later stages of hair loss and the short hair re-growth when treatment has finished.
If a client comes to see us before their treatment starts or during their treatment then The Intralace System™ can be integrated into a full head of hair. Hair loss during Chemotherapy can vary from person to person. Our clients who have used the Cold Cap during their treatment have managed to retain some of their own hair making it possible for them to have the Intralace System integrated with their own hair throughout their entire treatment.
It is important to note that we need as little as 10% of the clients' own hair to be remaining in order to succesfully integrate the system. This means that the client can enjoy a full head of hair that they can wash, brush, style, sleep in and swim in!
If a client experiences total hair loss during their Chemotherapy then their Intralace System can be adapted to an Intralace Freewear system. You will have the same hairstyle but we would be securing it to the scalp in a different way. We would need to use 4-6 taped contact points on the scalp. You would still be able to wash and care for your hair like it was your own as the tape is waterproof. You can also sleep in it. The system would need to be removed once or twice a week for approx 15 minutes to remove the old tape and replace with new tape. Once regrowth starts we can begin to integrate the system again (hair only needs to be one inch long) and remove all tape contact points.
The Intralace System™ is durable for two years, with maintenance of the re-growing hair normally required every six weeks. When your hair has re-grown to approximately 4-5 inches the Medi Connections™ service (ultra-fine and safe hair extensions) is more suitable. Each application lasts for around three months. Then, when the re-grown hair reaches its desired length, the Medi Connections™ are removed.
Using the Intralace System during or after your treatment will not inhibit any regrowth. It will not add to the hair loss during this period as the hair will have lost its stability and will fall out regardless of the Intralace System. When regrowth starts then your hair can grow naturally whilst using the system.
For more information on managing hair loss during chemotherapy treatment please see our Chemotherapy Fact Sheet.
Anyone who goes through chemotherapy may find their hair grows back a different colour and texture than it was prior to treatment. It may also grow back quite quickly, so you may find you do not require the Intralace System™ for its full life cycle.