Hair Loss & Chemotherapy: Why it Happens & What to Expect During Cancer Treatment
Hair loss and chemotherapy during cancer. (Photo Credits: Unsplash)

Hair is one of the most important features for some people. And you might not know how important your hair is until you face losing it. And if you are diagnosed with cancer and are about to undergo chemotherapy, losing out on hair becomes a real worry. One of the side-effects that cancer patients fear the most is hair loss. Hair is lost when chemotherapy drugs damage hair follicles, making hair fall out. Chemotherapy agents actively target and kill rapidly growing cells, such as those in a tumour. Because the drugs are designed to effectively kill all rapidly dividing cells, hair is the unfortunate bystander that takes the fall along with the cancer cells.

What to Expect?

Chemotherapy may cause hair loss all over your body – not just your scalp. Sometimes your eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic and other body hair also falls out. Fortunately, most of the time hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary. You can expect your hair to regrow in three to six months after your treatment ends, though the texture and shade of your hair may temporarily be different.

Hair usually begins falling out two to four weeks after the treatment starts. It may fall out in clumps or gradually. You will notice accumulations of loose hair on your pillow, comb or shower drain. Whether your hair thins, or you become completely bald will depend on your treatment.

When your hair starts to grow back, it will probably be slightly different from the hair you lost, although it is only temporary. It might be curlier than it was before, or it could be gray until the cells that control the pigment in your hair begin functioning again. Covering your head as your hair falls out is a personal decision. Some even opt for a wig as hair is associated with identity and health. The most important thing is to understand that it is only temporary. Patience and care is key.