Things Your Oncologist Team Won’t Tell You About Hair Loss


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Oncologists do incredible work. They devote themselves to getting you through your cancer journey physically. As someone who has experienced cancer first-hand, I can say that my oncology team is the very reason that I am still alive today. So, I have nothing but pure admiration for each and every dedicated person who has ensured that I am here now, cancer-free and sharing my story with you!

Here are the most frequently asked questions about hair loss when going to chemotherapy:

Will cancer treatment mean I lose my hair?

Yes, hair loss happens. Should your oncology team tell you to prepare to lose your hair – it will happen. So many of us hope to be the exception to the rule and, while it is completely understandable, the best thing that you can do for your mental health is come to terms with the process.

Can I prevent my hair from falling out during cancer treatment?

No, you can’t prevent your hair from falling out. Lots of women will stop brushing their hair in the hopes that it will stay put. Not only will this not work, but it will actually cause lots of tangling issues. It is important to brush your hair more often from Day 14 onwards, as this will help release the hairs which are due to fall. Also, plaiting long hair before you go to bed is another great way to avoid tangling overnight.

Will my rate of hair loss depend on my cancer treatment plan?

Yes. How quickly, slowly, much or little you lose your hair will depend on how many treatment cycles you have, what’s in your prescribed dosage, the strength of the dosage, whether your cycles are weekly or three-weekly, if you have a break from treatment, how thick your hair is, how healthy and strong your body is – and more. These are all factors which play their part in making hair loss an individual experience for everyone. If your oncology team says to expect thinning hair rather than total hair loss, that is different altogether and we will explain that at another time.

From our own research and recordings of over one thousand women, we have found that for most chemotherapy-related hair loss, when people have a cycle every three weeks, hair loss generally occurs on Day 17 (Day 1 being your first cycle).

How will I know when my hair is going to start falling out?

Lots of women experience a strange feeling on their scalp once they have had some chemotherapy and before they are due to lose their hair – you may feel a weird discomfort and tingle that’s quite uncomfortable. This feeling is quite normal. This tingle tends to go once the hair has fallen out.

How long does it take to lose hair from chemo?

Usually, the fall (hair loss) takes about 3-5 days. Hair loss usually covers the whole head rather than concentrating in certain spots. You won’t wake up one day and find it’s all gone, nor does it fall out in clumps but rather it is a diffuse hair loss, a shedding that does not stop. Once this shedding starts it doesn’t stop. So, if you run your hands through your hair, strands will fall out every time and you also can’t stop touching it you will likely feel compelled to keep putting your hands through it at this stage.

Will I lose my eyebrow and eyelash hair during cancer treatment?

From surveying so many women and understanding the processes, someone who completes a full treatment plan with months of chemotherapy will lose their eyebrows and eyelashes at least partially. However, unlike your head hair, this doesn’t tend to happen right away but rather a few months down the line.

Will my hair grow back during chemo?

Hair loss comes and goes. Throughout your treatment plan and after your initial hair loss, you will most likely have periods of small regrowth. Quite often your chemotherapy drugs will be tweaked and changed throughout your treatment cycles this can lead to periods of regrowth and loss throughout your full chemotherapy plan.

How we can help…

I know personally as a hairdresser and cancer survivor a young woman and a wife and mummy how utterly important understanding the full cycle of hair loss and regrowth is. That’s why I’ve put my heart and soul into helping women in this position come to terms with it and find ways to feel more like themselves as it starts to grow back – from hair integration solutions to wigs.