Chemotherapy Hair Loss

You might not cautious about hair in your everyday life. But when you are facing with cancer and undergoing chemo the problem of hair loss becomes very dangerous. Both men and women are having this side effect. Hair loss is one of the severe side effects of chemotherapy. You loose noticeable amount of your hair during chemo. It gets thinner however does not give any other or different look. Sometimes all of your hair falls out that is called alopecia. Hair falls depends on type and dose of chemotherapy drug.

Causes of hair loss during chemotherapy

Chemotherapy Hair LossThe hair loss during chemotherapy is called “Alopecia”. Chemotherapy drugs are very powerful drugs that directly attack the growth of cancer cells as well as other cells. Due to this hair follicle get damaged. Hair loss is not permanent side effect because there are more chances to grow it back after completion of chemotherapy. However, all drugs are not the reason or cause for hair loss. Some just cause thinning and some of them cause dramatic hair loss of body hair. Sometimes your eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic and other body hair are also falls down. Process of hair loss may begin after few days from the start of treatment or within few weeks. However, you will gain your hair back after 3 to 6 months, but they are slightly different in color and texture of original ones.

There are two lists of drugs with their chemical names that cause hair loss permanently or temporally.

Following are some drugs that cause thinning or rarely complete hair loss:

  • Asparaginase (Erwinase)
  • Busulphan (Myleran)
  • Carboplatin JM8 (Paraplatin)
  • Bleomycin
  • Capecitabine (Xeloda)
  • Cisplatin
  • Cytarabine
  • Cladribine 2 CDA
  • Chlorambucil (Leukeran)
  • Cytarabine (Leukeran)
  • Dacarbazine. (DTIC)
  • Estramustin (estracyt)
  • Fluorouracil 5-FU
  • Gemcitabine (Gemzar)
  • Hydroxyurea. (hydrea)
  • Lomustine(CCNU)
  • Melphalan (Alkern)
  • Mercaptopurine or 6 MP.
  • Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)
  • Procarbazine
  • Pentostatin(Nipent)
  • Streptozocin (Zanosar)
  • Raltitrexed (Tomudex)
  • Thioguanine or 6TG (Lanvis)
  • Thiotepa (Thioplex)
  • Vinorelbine (Navelbine)
  • Tegafur (Uftoral)

These drugs commonly cause hair thinning or complete hair loss and this is temporary side effect.

  • Amsacrine (m-AMSA)
  • Daunorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide ( Endoxana)
  • Dactinomycin (Antinomycin D)
  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
  • Docetaxel (Taxotere)
  • Etoposide or V16 (Etopophos Vepesid)
  • Epirubicin (Pharmarubicin)
  • Ifosfamide (Mitoxina)
  • Idarubicin (Zavedos)
  • Mustine or Chlormethine
  • Mitozantrone or mitoxantrone
  • Topotecan (Hycamtin)
  • Paclitaxel(Taxol)
  • Vincristine (Oncovin)
  • Vindesine (Eldisine)

Prevention of hair loss

There is no guarantee that your hairs will not fall during or after treatment of chemotherapy. You have to plan ahead and have to focus on make comfortable yourself during and after cancer treatment with your appearance. There are many possible ways to prevent hair loss, but not that much effective. You can use scalp hypothermia and minoxidil to prevent hair loss during chemo.

Scalp hypothermia (cryotherapy): In this method, some ice packs and devices similar to that are placed on the head to slow the blood flow from your scalp. 50 to 80 percent of people are having good results of hypothermia going through chemotherapy. To recover your hair it requires 4 to 6 weeks from chemotherapy. There is possibility of hair growth with one inch for each month. However, the hairs grown in this period are different in color and texture from the hair you lost. They may be curly and gray but this change is temporary.

Minoxidil (Rogaine): This treatment speed ups growth of your hair. This method is useful for both men and women. It is acceptable before and during chemotherapy to prevent hair loss. Women specially having breast cancer needs to apply it twice a day through out and four months after their treatment.

When your hairs grow back you have to take extra care of them to keep them as it is. You may cover it and there are so many ways to cover it. When your hairs are at falling stage you can control the hair fall by using various ways. If you like a wig then you may use it after consulting with your chemotherapy nurse. She will help you to choose right color, type and style of wig. A wig is the great way however, it is not suitable or fancies to everyone. If you want a wig, which match your own hair color, type and style then you have to buy it early before your chemotherapy starts. In summer they bit hot. Use of hats and scarves is comfortable and good way to cover your head; it also protects us from sun rays and pollution. Also you may take help from resources nearby to your area to find out the perfect and safe cover for your head. There are some programs like “Look good and fill better” that gives information about cancer in women and provides hair and beauty makeovers. They offer classes for a teen having cancer and their web sites are made especially for men. These classes are held in United States as well as in other countries also.

You may do yourself to prevent hair loss

There are some things that a cancer patient must have to follow during his chemotherapy treatment.

  • If your chemotherapy drugs are causing hair loss you should ask your doctor and nurse about it.
  • Ask for a wig to doctors if it possible for them before your chemotherapy treatment. That will help you to match the color, type and texture of your original hair.
  • You may think for short hair cut before you start your chemotherapy treatment.
  • Use hair net to avoid hair fall on your pillow which may makes you upset.
  • Use soft and gentle products for your hair instead of harsh products.
  • Avoid colors and perms on thinning hair, which damages your hair.
  • Dry your hairs naturally. Do not use dryers, curlers and curling tongs on thinning hair.
  • Do not use hard brush and comb for your thinning hair. Soft baby brush is better for it.
  • Some people do not have any distress of seeing hair fall and they like to shave off their hair completely.
  • If there is itching sense or flakes due to your scalp this means it is dry and you have to use moisturizer or oil to avoid it. Do not use any anti- dandruff shampoo.