Here are Nicky’s answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding hair loss, one of the side effects of Chemotherapy.
When will my hair fall out?
This is the first question most women want answered and this can vary. For some patients it is about 10 days after the first treatment, for others it is after the second treatment. There are two types of hair loss that I deal with regularly; diffuse hair loss where there is general thinning of hair all over the scalp and body and total hair loss, including facial and body hair. Because patients are told they will have hair loss, some choose to visit their hairdresser prior to their first treatment of Chemotherapy and ask them to cut their hair shorter in a cropped style, as they feel they will be able to cope better as well as it being more practical once the shedding starts.
How do I look after my hair once it starts shedding?
Some patients think that it they don’t handle their hair it won’t fall out or at least fall out less quickly. In fact, once hair starts to shed it will not be affected by handling, brushing or shampooing. During shedding it is really important to shampoo the hair as normal as it helps to keep the scalp healthy as the hair can become entangled as it falls away from the hair follicles. Also many ladies choose to wear a wig or scarf when their hair starts to shed which causes the scalp to have a light covering of sweat (sebum) and shampooing will stop the scalp getting sore and removes any odour caused by this. Because patients are told they will have hair loss, some choose to visit their hairdresser prior to their first treatment of Chemotherapy and ask them to cut their hair shorter in a cropped style, as they feel they will be able to cope better as well as it being more practical once the shedding starts.
The Telogen Phase
During Chemotherapy treatment hair is put into a resting phase, called Telogen. On average anyone with hair naturally loses between 50 and 100 hairs each day, but Chemotherapy treatment causes the hair follicles to stay in this resting phase and remain dormant until the course of treatment is completed.
4-6 weeks after the treatment has finished fine vellous hair, normally white in colour, will start to grow back. After a further 4-6 weeks, hair returns to its natural shade and the texture it was before the Chemotherapy treatment began. Hair grows at half an inch per month so in 12 months the hair will be 6 inches long and often patients say that their hair is better than before they had the treatment!
4-6 weeks after the treatment has finished fine vellous hair, normally white in colour, will start to grow back. After a further 4-6 weeks, hair returns to its natural shade and the texture it was before the Chemotherapy treatment began. Although your hair will re-grow after the course of treatment has finished, many ladies choose to wear a wig. As your prescribed treatment causes the hair loss you are entitled to an NHS prescription which covers the cost of a stock wig. A made to measure wig is not normally covered under the terms of the NHS.
Wigs always look more natural if they are fitted correctly, which can be done by making alterations to the foundation, cutting and styling by a hairdresser who is fully trained in wig-fitting.
Specialist wig-fitting salon
Nicky Oliver Hairdressing has been appointed as the only Manchester city centre listed wig-fitting salon to the Christie hospital by leading European wig distributors Dimples who have created a specific range of wigs which are available on NHS prescription. The new light-weight collection, from their Feather Premier Range, is perfect for women who experience hair loss because they are lightweight, comfortable, stylish, flattering and completely natural looking.
Help from the experts
Nicky will not only advise you on which type of wig to choose but also on the right colour as wigs look more natural if they are one shade lighter than your own hair colour. This is because your skin tone changes whilst you are undergoing the course of treatment. Wigs help to protect your scalp from direct sunlight or from the cold. Once it is fitted and styled professionally the wig will feel and look like your own hair, which can be the most uplifting part of your treatment.