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Exeter Trichology Blog

Chemotherapy and Hair Loss

Hair loss during chemotherapy is often perceived as one of the worst anticipated unwanted side effects by patients. Often both men and women do not realise how important their hair is to them until they face the prospect of losing it.

Chemotherapy drugs have been developed to attack rapidly dividing cancer cells, but they attack healthy cells that divide rapidly too. Hair follicle cells are some of the fastest-dividing cells in the body, which is why many chemotherapy patients lose their hair. Chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over the body, not just on the scalp.
Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely than others to cause hair loss, and different doses can cause anything from a mere thinning to complete baldness.

Chemotherapy and  hair loss. What to expect. 

Hair usually begins falling out one to three weeks after treatment is started. Hair loss may continue throughout the treatment and for a few weeks after completion. There may be an associated tenderness of the scalp.

Fortunately, hair loss secondary to chemotherapy is often temporary. The hair can be expected to regrow three to 10 months after completion of the treatment, although the hair may be a different shade or texture.

Unfortunately no treatment exists that can guarantee prevention of hair loss during or after chemotherapy.

Scalp Cooling

The cold cap or scalp cooling has been developed to prevent or reduce hair loss during chemotherapy.

During chemotherapy, scalp cooling devices are placed on the head to slow blood flow to the scalp. It is thought that by reducing blood flow to the hair follicles, the chemotherapy drugs are less likely to affect the hair follicles thus reducing hair loss. It is not effective in all cases and some people have problems tolerating the device.

Scalp cooling is not suitable for all chemotherapy patients. It’s use prolongs the administration of the chemotherapy. Additionally it is not available at all oncology centres.

Please email for advice on how to care for your hair during and after chemotherapy.

Nicola Hemsley AIT
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Nicola Hemsley
Southernhay Clinic 
4 Barnfield Crescent
Tel: 01392 430115
Mob: 07841 237888

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