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The normal scalp has over 100,000 hairs! Chemotherapy can harm the cells that make all of that hair. Other places on the body may see changes or loss in the hair. Hair loss is called alopecia.  The degree of hair loss depends on the chemo drug that is used, its dosage, and its duration. This effect is not permanent and healthy cells grow back normally once chemotherapy is completed.

Hair loss will start approximately 2-3 weeks after your first dose of chemotherapy and may continue for 1-2 months.  Hair on the head is most commonly affected, but hair loss may also occur on the face, arms, legs, underarms, and pubic areas. The scalp may become tender and hair that is still growing may become dull or dry. To view hair products, please click here

These suggestions will help you become ready to manage your hair loss before it begins:

  • Shop for a wig before hair loss is expected to keep the experience less depressing and discouraging. To find out more on how to purchase a wig, please click here
  • Schedule an appointment at an Image Recovery Center® as soon as you learn that you will undergo cancer treatment.  We offer advice and services that may help you understand and handle all of the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
  • Shop for hats, scarves, or turbans ahead of time. To view our products for hats and headwear, please click here.  
  • If you have long hair you might consider getting a shorter hair cut to minimize the trauma of hair loss. Shorter hair is easier to maintain under a wig. It will also make your hair loss easier to manage if it occurs.
  • Use mild shampoos and conditioner. To view our shampoo products, please click here
  • Use soft hairbrushes
  • Use low heat when drying your hair
  • You may use a dye rinse on your hair
  • Do not use permanent dye on your hair
  • Do not use brush style rollers to set your hair

After your hair begins to follow out follow these suggestions to maintain a healthy scalp:

  • Protect your head from the sun. Always use sunscreen or wear a hat for protection. To view our sunscreen products, please click here
  • Protect your head from the cold
  • Try wearing a sleep cap when you sleep. To view headwear products, please click here
  • Wigs and head scarves are a great alternative to hair loss. 
  • Remember to postpone receiving chemical treatments (color, highlights, or permanents) until 8 – 12 weeks after the completion of chemotherapy.

Wigs are often paid for by your health insurance provider. Ask one of our Image Recovery Center® consultants to help you verify your insurance during your complementary visits. 

Losing hair from your head, face, or body can be hard to accept.  It is common and perfectly alright to feel angry or depressed about this loss. Talking about your feelings can help. Remember that the hair lost during treatment may grow back even thicker than ever. Most likely your hair will begin to grow back in 2-3 weeks after your chemotherapy treatment stops.