What to expect during hair loss due to Chemotherapy
Oh, it is all so frightening, isn't it? Beyond words! When those words "you have cancer" are spoken to you, you immediately think of two things - how long am I going to live and if you need chemotherapy, "oh I am going to be bald!"
I've been there and my sister has been there. You worry so much about losing your hair from the moment you are told you need chemo, that it is actually a relief when it is time for it to go! Here is what most people experience.
How long before my hair falls out? With most drugs, it is 12 to 17 days from your first infusion. Your head starts to hurt and ache - a weird sort of tenderness. Then you worry that if you take a shower it will just fall off your head. It isn't like that, but on Day 14 when I pulled on a strand of hair, it pulled out easily. For my sister and I, we got our hair cut into a very short cut the day before chemo started. Then, the minute our hair started falling out, we had our heads shaved. That is what worked for us. Everyone is different!! Do what makes you feel in control. That is the most important thing as you lose so much control over your life with a cancer diagnosis.
After my hair falls out or I shave my head, then what? You continue to wash your scalp with shampoo. At first your scalp will be very tender. If you had your head shaved, the little hair that remains will still be falling out. It usually starts to wash off or I took sticky tape to get mine off!
Honestly, being bald is not fun by any means, but it gets better as time progresses. You get more used to it, you aren't as shocked when you look in the mirror and you get used to caps, scarves and wigs if you choose to wear one.
When will my hair come back? Usually it begins coming back about 4 months into chemotherapy. Everyone is different in this area as well. But as a rule, at the one-year mark your hair will look like a cute, short haircut and no longer a cancer patient! Up until then, it first starts as what I called "duck fuzz" and then as time elapses, it turns into HAIR! My new hair was better than my old hair. I hope that is the case for you. Many times it is curly at first. That usually goes away, but for some people, it does not!
How many chemo caps will I need? You will be surprised how often you wear chemo caps or scarves even if you wear a wig. Wigs are hot, itchy, and often uncomfortable. That is how Hello Courage got started. My recommendations to start is 5 pieces:
3 Cozy caps (great for sleeping and lounging) or
3 Designer cap
1 or 2 scarves that suit your taste and clothing colors
1 other cap of your choosing
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