Cancer treatments are getting more advanced every year. We are coming closer to painless alternatives, but treatment options available to the general public today often cause painful or traumatic side effects like radiation hair loss. This is because current cancer therapies cannot target the cancer cells within a patient’s body without harming healthy cells. Depending on the treatment, hair loss can present itself as mild thinning to complete baldness.
Radiation therapy comes with fewer side effects than chemotherapy, as it targets only the affected area of a patient’s body. If the area in need of treatment is above the shoulders, there will likely be some degree of scalp hair loss in the process. A patient’s oncologist should let them know how severe the hair loss is likely to be.
Hair Care Before Radiation Therapy
Patients may notice their hair becoming thin and more delicate as they begin the radiation treatment. This is normal as the hair structure weakens and falls from the scalp, but it can cause quite a mess if the hair is not cared for properly during this process. Many people decide to cut their hair as short as possible to minimize clean-up or tangling to prepare for hair loss. If a patient expects total hair loss, they should preemptively take wig measurements or search for comfortable head coverings. These things are not necessary, but they can help people experiencing hair loss feel confident and protect their scalps while undergoing treatment. Before the expected hair loss, experts at Allusions can match the patient’s remaining hair to a beautiful wig so they can keep their natural look.
Hair Care During/After Therapy
Cancer treatments leave patients feeling ill and uncomfortable already; losing hair in the process can be “the last straw” for some people’s positivity. If a patient does not go completely bald, salon experts at Allusions can cut and style their hair in a way that hides as much hair loss as possible. While radiation hair loss is often impossible to avoid, treating any remaining hair and the scalp with proper care can be the difference between comfort and despair. A patient may have to alter their regular hygiene habits, such as a showering schedule and using specific styling tools. Below is a list of care tips for delicate, rapidly thinning hair.
- Showering: Wash your hair less often during and after radiation therapy. The natural oils in your hair are there to protect each strand, but showering strips these oils out. Choosing a mild shampoo will also help avoid further damage.
- Tools: Make sure you are brushing your hair very gently with a soft-bristled brush or a wide-tooth comb. Brushing with these rather than other types will prevent yanking weak strands out of your scalp. Avoid using any heat tools, clips, or styling products that may harm your defenseless scalp.
- Scalp Protection: Cancer treatments may cause hair to fall out, but it should grow back normally afterward as long as your scalp is healthy. If your scalp is left without any hair to protect it, you need to protect it yourself. Use sunscreen or a headcover when outside, don’t expose your bare scalp to direct sunlight. If your scalp is tender or itching, try not to touch it. There are many topical medicines or lotions that will keep these side effects at bay.