Alopecia (Hair Loss)
Will I lose my hair?
Chemotherapy works by killing fast growing cancer cells. It also affects some fast growing normal cells such as hair, skin, and intestinal cells. Many chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Ask your doctor or nurse if the drugs and dosages you are getting are likely to cause hair loss. Some treatments can cause loss of hair from places other than your head. You may lose hair from your eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, and pubic hair.
When will I lose my hair?
Hair loss can begin as early as the second or third week after the first treatment, although you may not completely lose your hair until after the second cycle. Hair loss can be sudden or slow. You may lose some or all of your hair, or it may just become thin. Your hair will not fall out all at once; it most often falls out in clumps. To manage this more simply, some people elect to cut their hair shorter or to shave their heads altogether.
Will my hair grow back?
Yes, the hair loss from treatment does not last. Hair can grow back 3 - 6 months after treatment. Your hair may grow back a different color or texture.
What can I do before or while my hair grows back?
While you are waiting for your hair to grow back, you have options to cover your head, if you choose to use them. Wigs, turbans, scarves, and caps are options for keeping your head warm. If you know your hair is going to fall out, you may want to plan ahead and get a wig that matches your current style or color. You may also think about having your own hair cut and made into a wig. This is more expensive and takes more time. While you are going through hair loss, you will want to avoid dyes and permanents which can be harsh. You may need to switch to gentle shampoos. Use sunscreen and a head cover to protect your head from the sun.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 03/10/2011
Copyright © 03/10/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6570
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