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Exeter Trichology Blog
24th February 2015

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.

8th February 2015

How Many New Mothers Experience Hair Loss After Child Birth?

Post-partum effluvium can affect as many as 40% of women following childbirth. Hair can be shed at an alarming rate causing great distress and emotional upset. Even for women who are aware of post-partum effluvium, its arrival is often unexpected and there is the fear of when will it stop.

What happens during pregnancy that causes this effect?

From approximately the second trimester the mother’s hair is usually at its absolute best. It is fuller, shinier, and more manageable. The improvement in the hair is largely due to the effect of the increased levels of oestrogen. Normally 85% of the hair is in the growing phase (anagen) at any one time. Oestrogen prolongs anagen and increases the ratio of hairs in anagen. The number of hairs shed each day is also greatly reduced, thus giving the effect of thicker, fuller hair.

Approximately 4 months post-partum (longer if you are breast feeding) the oestrogen levels fall back to pre-pregnancy levels. This causes a large shift in the number of hairs entering the telogen phase, and basically the hair that would have normally been shed during pregnancy is shed over a 2-7 month period.There is much variation in this and some women notice no increase in shedding. Breast feeding can delay this process or slow it down as oestrogen levels fall at a slower rate.

In most cases hair will be replaced. Often women forget what their pre-pregnancy hair was like and they complain that their hair has never regained its former density. There are other factors that can also affect hair loss and regrowth following childbirth, these include iron deficiency anaemia, post-natal depression, a traumatic labour, blood loss, and dietary deficiencies.

Women are often anxious to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight and in particular if they are breast feeding they are failing to take sufficient nutrients to maintain healthy hair growth.

It’s perfectly normal to lose hair after child birth and this can occur with one pregnancy and not another but if you become concerned or feel that your hair loss may be due to another cause, please call for a consult or further advice.


 

 
 
Nicola Hemsley AIT
Trichologist
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Nicola Hemsley
Southernhay Clinic 
4 Barnfield Crescent
Southernhay
Exeter
EX1 1QT
Tel: 01392 430115
Mob: 07841 237888

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