For better or worse, our hair is intrinsically tied into how we see ourselves as individuals. When we lose our hair because of genetics, which is one of the most common reasons for alopecia, we can usually see it coming. But when hair loss occurs as a result of chemotherapy treatments, this can be another enormous stressor on top of an already difficult situation.
Suddenly, a unique part of our identity — one that has been there for decades — is gone. It’s only natural to feel overwhelmed and upset. While hair typically grows back within six months following the end of your chemotherapy treatment, it’s still a long journey during and after treatment to cope with hair loss.
Here are some top tips to help you better cope with hair loss as a result of chemotherapy.
Prepare in advance, both mentally and physically.
Not all chemotherapy treatments result in hair loss and this varies from person to person. But if you’re told that your treatment will likely lead to hair loss, it’s better to know sooner than later. Learning about this potentiality can give you time to come to terms that this change is coming down the line. It will also give you time to invest in wigs that you like or other hair options if you prefer.
Some people find it helpful to gradually cut their hair shorter and shorter throughout their treatment. Taking care of shorter hair can also put less pressure on the roots, leading to less hair loss in some people. People with long hair will often cut their hair to a bob, then a pixie before going for a crew-cut look. Though the methods of preparing may be different, knowing sooner will give you time to weigh your options and make the decision for yourself.
Get gentle hair products.
Just because you’re losing your hair doesn’t mean that you have to shave it off. Investing in gentle shampoos and scalp conditioning treatments can help maintain the hair that you have on your head. Let your hair air dry and avoid using any harsh products or heating tools while you’re undergoing chemotherapy. It might be hard to resist a quick blow dry before heading to group therapy or going out to dinner, but being gentle with your hair can help it in the long run.
Invest in hair substitutes.
It’s common for those experiencing hair loss to invest in hair replacement options or hair substitutes. Wigs are a common option for many chemotherapy patients. For many, this is an opportunity to try out different hairstyles, cuts, and colors than before. However, keep in mind that many cancer patients prefer to divert attention away from their hair. Opting for a realistic wig akin to your normal hair is the most popular option for people who want to forget about their hair loss.
But hair loss can happen on more than just your scalp. Should you happen to experience thinning lashes, gentle magnetic eyelashes are a great way to shape the eye without damaging your real lashes as glue would. You can also use biotin-boosting mascara with approval from your doctor to encourage lash growth.
Keep in mind that headcovers are another common option for those looking for economical or simple options.
Get outside support.
Flex your social skills and get help from others when it is needed. This might be talking to a trusted group of friends or attending group therapy for encouragement. A little bit of humor is a great way to break the monotony of treatment and break you out of the humdrum of your everyday routine. You never know when a group therapy session can give you a new perspective on your current situation. After all, the members of the group are going through the same thing you are.
Coping with hair loss and chemotherapy can be overwhelming, but with the right support, it’s not impossible. Rely on these tips when you’re pondering options for your hair loss.