By Anh Nguyen
Hair loss can be unpleasant and embarrassing.
But in a recent Red Table Talk episode, actress Jada Pinkett Smith opened up about her struggles with hair loss, also known as alopecia. Alopecia is an autoimmune skin disease that results in hair loss on the scalp, face and other areas of the body.
Hair loss is also a common side effect for patients undergoing chemotherapy. As chemotherapy travels throughout the body to kill cancer cells, some of the drugs damage hair follicles and cause hair to fall out. Your hair may start to fall out two to three weeks after chemotherapy begins and usually grows back in two to three months after treatment is completed.
Radiation therapy can also cause hair loss. Patients will only lose hair in the area where they get radiation, but for most, the hair will grow back within six months after the radiation is finished. For some patients who receive a very high dose of radiation, hair may not grow back.
Before you start treatment, consider these ways to help you prepare for hair loss:
- Cut your hair short - Shorter hair will look thicker and if hair loss occurs it will be easier to manage
- Shave your head - If you decide to shave your head, be sure to use an electric shaver, not a razor, so you don’t cut your scalp.
- Get a wig - If you plan on buying a wig or a hairpiece, select it before or at the very start of your treatment so you can match your hair as close as possible. Some health insurance policies cover the cost of wigs of hairpieces related to cancer treatment hair loss. Check your policy and request a prescription from your doctor.
For anyone who is seeking hair loss support, Magnolia’s Salon is an on-site salon that offers professional services, hair prostheses, cancer awareness products, accessories and consultations. The licensed stylists service all hair textures, types and lengths, including wigs. The salon is open to patients, family and friends of patients and team members.