Male and Female Hair Loss Treatments

What Can Be Done About Hair Loss Related To
 Cancer, Chemotherapy, and Radiation

     Cancer can be a devastating disease that affects the mental and physical status of the sufferer and that of the people that surround them. Just the emotional aspects of dealing with this dreaded disease is enough to trigger hair loss even in the most healthy. Unfortunately the radiation and most medications often required to treat this life altering event will trigger a loss of hair. It is important to recognize though that this type of hair loss is rarely permanent, does not happen to everyone undergoing treatment, and can be a sign that the therapy is achieving results. As a side note even the creators of Rogaine recognized that even the minutest levels of stress can cause hair fallout. So you can imagine the stress involved when a diagnosis of cancer is made. Just remember this is often just one of lifeís temporary interruptions in you becoming better.

What Areas of the Body Are Affected?

     Hair loss related to chemotherapy can affect all parts of the body including the scalp, eyebrows, beard, chest, back, legs, underarms, and genital regions. If the therapy is more targeted which is often seen with radiation the loss of hair may be minimal. With regard to the rate of loss it can be in clumps or gradual. Most hair that is meant to fall out will cease within three weeks of ending therapy. Except in rare situations most of your hair will have returned within nine months. In some cases it can be curlier but many seem to believe it is more luxurious than when they began treatment. This may be true in many situations because previously damaged or chemically processed hair has now fallen out.  

What to Expect

     Many oncologists will alert you as to what to expect in regards to hair loss prior to treatment. Just remember their overall goal is in saving your life not preserving your vanity. Todayís treatment goals do take into account that a person who feels they look better is more responsive to therapy.

     In deterring hair loss related to chemotherapy and radiation one of the things doctors have learned is that hair loss is less likely if the therapy is performed in the late afternoon or evening. The reasoning behind this is the body will often react with tiredness and sleepiness two to six hours after treatment. In other words if you perform the treatment at a later hour the normal rest and renewal periods for the body are less likely to be interrupted. Scientists feel much of this has to do with the natural circadian rhythms of the body.

     Scientists have also learned that cold whether itís in the form of a cold shampoo and rinse, shower, or cold cap before chemotherapy retards hair loss. These cold caps lower the scalp temperature or slow the blood circulation thereby substantially reducing the hair fall out  in many cases.

Suggestion for Limiting Chemotherapy Induced Hair Loss

     Many people in preparation for cancer therapy procure a shorter haircut. This reduces the trauma and workload of dealing with large clumps of hair on your pillows or blocking your drain covers.

     The use of silk or cotton pillow cases greatly reduces the friction that is often associated with large chunks of hair falling out all at once.

     Use of a soft bristle hairbrush lessens the pull on the individual tresses of the scalp.

     Avoid harsh shampoos or those containing harsh detergents. Look for milder scalp cleansers that can be used on a daily basis. Plus try to avoid hair dryers and let your hair dry naturally.

     Wigs and hairpieces can be an excellent alternative costing anywhere from $100-$1000. Many insurance policies now cover the price of hair replacement for cancer treatment. Plus youíll find many well skilled professionals in this field who can advise you as to what your exact needs will be. Many have treated quite a few people undergoing cancer treatments. Just remember to check the limitations, exclusions, deductibles, and maximum payouts of your insurance policies before heading in this direction. A typical insurance company will pay 80% of the costs up to a maximum of $1000 if a doctor has prescribed a hair prosthesis. Even if you arenít covered and the doctor has prescribed it remember to get a receipt saying so because it is tax deductible.

     Scarves, turbans, and hats can also be an excellent choice for those who donít want to go through the fuss of wigs. Plus itís a lot cheaper. Quite a few hats have built in wigs that few will notice as you make a quick trip to the grocery or shopping center. In regard to scarves and turbans many of the businesses who sell these items can show you a variety of usability techniques that can disguise the details of what you are experiencing.

     Local chapters of the American Cancer Society can also give you advice about looking and feeling better. Plus they can refer you to local support groups.



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