When a person undergoes cancer treatment, they not only endure a lot physically, but also on a mental and psychological level. Not to mention, the physical changes that it brings along. Several of the chemotherapy drugs used during the treatment of cancer cause hair fall. This is because chemotherapy drugs work by attacking the actively dividing cancer cells. But they also attack other actively growing cells in your body like that in the hair follicle.
Some people opt for wigs during the course of the treatment. Some shave their head or go bald as a symbol of their fight against cancer. Here are a few more possibilities:
1. Scalp ice caps:
These are caps that are lined with a gel that is usually refrigerated and chilled. This is applied to the scalp during chemotherapy so that blood flow to the scalp is sluggish and chemotherapy drugs do not actively flow there. This in turn prevents hair fall. But it may not be available in all hospitals so remember to check with your doctor. The cap is put on the scalp 40-50 minutes before the chemotherapy is given.
2. Hair replacement:
It is a type of a high-end hair toupee. A mesh base is first designed after taking the dimensions of the head and it is colour coordinated to the skin tone. Human hair is then tied to this mesh with some special knots in a way that it appears like hair is growing out of the mesh base. This base is then fitted to the head.
3. Hair transplantation:
If the hair thinning seems permanent or if there are patchy areas of hair loss after finishing the treatment, hair transplant may also be a solution. There are 2 types — FUT where a strip of scalp is removed from the back of the head and the hair grafts are dissected out and implanted or there is the FUE method where individual grafts are removed with the help of an FUE motor and implanted. See which hair transplant is right for you.
It may not help during the process of chemotherapy but it helps to grow hair back quicker after finishing chemotherapy. Used for both men and women, it is a solution that is applied directly to the scalp to stimulate the hair follicles. It works best on the crown area compared to the frontal region. However, one needs to be very careful while applying it since application to the face or neck skin can cause unwanted hair growth in those areas! And you may have to continue using it for a really long time since stopping the usage has often been linked to increased hair loss.
Finasteride also helps by promoting hair growth after chemotherapy. It is a pill that blocks the action of natural hormones in scalp hair and reduces hair loss. Approved for use in only men with androgenic hair loss, this drug is found to be safe in post menopausal women.
Though these methods will help, one also needs to take care of their hair to ensure better growth. Therefore, gentle treatment of the hair must commence immediately. Use mild shampoo, brush less vigorously, avoid chemical treatments like perming, straightening, colouring. Use less heat styling. It helps to keep the hair short as it looks fuller.