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Will I Lose My Hair With Chemo For Breast Cancer

Emotional Side Effects Of Temporary Hair Loss

Losing Hair | Breast Cancer patient loses hair from chemotherapy

Patients can take steps to alleviate emotional side effects from chemotherapy-induced hair loss. Cutting long hair prior to starting chemo can make hair loss seem less dramatic. A wig, scarf or other head covering can also ease the difficult transition and protect the patients scalp. Its important to remember that new hair regrowth will likely look quite different after chemotherapy ends. Thats because hair color and texture can change dramatically following cancer treatment with chemo drugs. For many patients, believing in eventual hair regrowth after treatment is an important part of the healing cycle. It signals the end of a traumatic time and instills hope at the opportunity to start life over again. A long-term adverse reaction like permanent alopecia, however, can have significant emotional side effects.

Chemo Less Likely To Cause Hair Loss

Some chemotherapy drugs result in only minimal hair loss, though these are often combined with drugs that cause more hair loss. These include:

  • The platinums: Paraplatin , Platinol , Eloxatin
  • Antitumor antibiotics: Bleo 15K , Mutamicin , low doses of epirubicin or doxorubicin
  • Antimetabolites: Trexall, Otrexup, Rasuvo
  • Oral cyclophosphamide
  • Topoisomerase inhibitors: Novantrone , Hycamtin or Potactasol
  • Alkylating agents: Hexalen

/ Will My Hair Look The Same When It Grows Back

Hair that grows back after chemotherapy often looks different to begin with. The colour may be different to how it was in the past but the texture often changes as well. People who had straight hair before chemo might find they have curly hair and vice versa. Sometimes this is just temporary and you will get your own hair back after a few months to a year. Sometimes the changes are permanent. Hair growth after chemo is a different experience for everyone. Some peoples hair grows back thicker and more difficult to manage, while others find it softer and finer. Other factors can also influence your hair texture, such as hormone therapy for the treatment of breast cancer.

Please note that we have limited ourselves to the most common questions. Our answers are based on hair growth as experienced by the majority of the people after chemotherapy. There are always exceptions to the rule. Do you have any more questions or concerns? Talk to your doctor, your oncology coach or your nurse.

Instant Feel Good?

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What Happens To Hair Growth Once Chemo Is Over

Hair regrowth after chemotherapy is often a crazy adventure with new color, texture and style for a while. We dont exactly know why, but dark hair may come in snow white, straight hair can come in curly, etc.

My own hair was as curly as a sheeps, which I loved! My chemo curls were sweet and I was so glad to have hair again. The photo here is me with the last of my chemo curls. Why this happens is a mystery though. What we do know is that once chemotherapy is stopped, the chemotherapy drugs slowly leave the body and the matrix cells gradually recover and start dividing again. Theres probably a complex biochemical recovery that the cells go through when the matrix cells are stopped and then begin recovery after chemo. That process of recovery is most likely is why color and texture are a bit random.

We dont know exactly what is going on, but researchers are studying the process in the hopes of understanding it.

The bottom line is that the process of post-chemo hair regrowth depends on a persons unique hair follicle physiology and the chemo cocktail they received.

Typically, hair color and texture changes after chemo are temporary. Id love my chemo curls to be permanent, but they are growing out and my hair is once again becoming straight.

About Hair Loss From Treatment

What It

Some cancer treatments may make your hair fall out completely. This may be from your head and other parts of your body. This is usually temporary. Other treatments can cause permanent hair loss in specific areas of your body. Sometimes you may not lose all your hair, but your hair can become thinner or more likely to break .

There are practical steps you can take to reduce hair loss during treatment, including scalp cooling.

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Limit Brushing And Styling

To avoid additional hair loss during the regrowth period, people should avoid:

  • brushing or pulling the hair excessively
  • styling the hair with heating devices, such as flat irons or blow-dryers
  • using dyes and perms for the first few months

Wearing a hat and applying sunscreen regularly can protect the scalp from UV rays while the hair is growing back.

Hair Loss During Chemotherapy

  • Unfortunately, one of the most effective chemo drugs for ovarian cancer does typically cause women to lose their hair
  • Hair loss during treatment can be distressing for many women, but its important to remember its only temporary
  • Theres a wealth of resources available to help women manage hair loss

For so many of us, one of the first questions after the cancer diagnosis is, when does the hair go? Hair loss is one of the more distressing side effects of chemotherapy, but its important to remember that its only temporary. One of the most common chemotherapy drugs used to treat ovarian cancer, called Taxol, usually does cause women to lose their hair, including their eyebrows and eyelashes.

Despite many claims that there are ways to prevent that from happening, it is a side effect unfortunately that cannot be stopped, says Dr. Yvette Williams-Brown, a gynecologic oncologist at the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes at UTHealth Austin.

But Dr. Williams-Brown emphasizes that once treatment is over, hair typically does grow back. Although some women, she notes, may experience some changes to hair color and texture when it begins growing back.

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Looking After Your Scalp After Hair Loss

Remember to protect your scalp from the sun. Cover your head when in the sun or use a high protection factor sun cream at all times, as the scalp is particularly sensitive.

We lose a lot of heat from our heads so cover your scalp in colder weather.

If your scalp is dry, flaky or itchy you can use unperfumed moisturiser or natural oils such as almond or olive oil to help with this. Some people use aromatherapy oils, but it is best to consult a trained aromatherapist as the oils can be very strong.

How Can I Prepare For Losing My Hair

HAIR LOSS FROM CHEMO| My Breast Cancer Journey

If youre likely to lose your hair during chemotherapy, it may help to be prepared beforehand. You might want to think about:

  • having your hair cut short
  • whether you want to use a cold cap
  • choosing a wig
  • trying out other headwear and wig alternatives
  • finding out how to care for your hair and scalp
  • learning how to recreate eyelashes and eyebrows
  • finding support from other people with experience of hair loss

You might want to have your hair cut short before your treatment starts. For many people this is a way of taking control rather than waiting for hair loss to happen, which in turn can help reduce stress.

Some people ask about donating their hair if they have it cut off. There are organisations that you can donate your hair to for them to make into wigs for other people with hair loss.

If you think youll want to wear a wig, it can be useful to choose a wig before you lose your hair. Some people begin trying out wearing their wig before treatment starts to help them get used to it. It can also help if you want to be fitted with a wig that matches your natural hair colour and style.

You can ask your specialist team or local cancer information centre for more information about any services available in your area.

The charity Cancer Hair Care has lots of information to help people understand and prepare for hair loss.

It may also be useful to talk to other people who have experience of hair loss.

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Will Body Hair Fall Out

If chemotherapy causes your scalp hair to fall often other facial and body hair can also be affected. If chemotherapy cause hair to fall out on your scalp it is highly likely to also cause body hair to also fall out.Examples of body hair that may also fall out are:


Leg, arm and underarm hairChest hairOther areas of the body where hair grows

Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss

The reason chemotherapy can cause hair loss is that it targets all rapidly dividing cells healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles, the structures in the skin from which hair grows, include some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. If you’re not in cancer treatment, cells in your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours. But as chemotherapy does its work against cancer cells, it also damages hair follicle cells. Within a few weeks of starting certain chemotherapy medicines, you may lose some or all of your hair. The hair loss can happen gradually or fairly quickly.

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Covering The Cost Of Scalp Cooling

The cost of using cold caps or scalp cooling system varies depending on the manufacturer, the number of chemotherapy sessions you have, and the number of months you need to use the scalp cooling method.

Cold caps typically cost about $380 to $450 per month, plus shipping costs and a refundable security deposit in some cases. Scalp cooling systems can cost from $2,000 to $2,200 for a full course of chemotherapy. Some cancer centers also charge a facility fee each time you use their scalp cooling system during a chemotherapy infusion.

Insurance coverage for scalp cooling is not yet standard in the United States, but some people have successfully gotten their health insurance to cover some or all of the cost. Aetna is one health insurance company that considers scalp cooling to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy to be a medically necessary, covered expense . Check with your health insurance company to find out their policies. Also, contact the manufacturer that makes the cold cap or scalp cooling system you plan to use for advice on how to submit a claim to your health insurance company for reimbursement. Learn more about insurance coverage for the DigniCap system and about insurance coverage for the Paxman system.

Written by: Jen Uscher, contributing writer


  • Kruse M, Abraham J. Management of Chemotherapy-Induced Alopecia With Scalp Cooling. J Oncol Pract 2018. Available at:
  • Nancy Marshall, co-founder of The Rapunzel Project

    How To Prepare For A Wig

    Different ways to style your bald head when going through ...

    If you think you might want to get a wig, its helpful to take some steps to prepare before you start chemotherapy or another treatment that may cause hair loss. For example:

    • Find or take a couple of pictures of your preferred hairstyle. This will make it easier to find a wig thats closest to your color, length, and style if you decide thats what you want.
    • Cut your hair short. It’s less traumatic to lose short clumps of hair than long ones, and it’s easier to fit a wig over less hair. Also, if you get used to short hair, you wont have to wait as long while your hair is growing back to feel like yourself.

    Consider picking out a wig before you start a treatment that can cause hair loss. Youll have more energy, and you can get used to wearing the wig in trial sessions, alternating with your own hair.

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    Hair Regrowth After Chemotherapy

    Whether you’re just beginning chemotherapy, or well into your infusions, you are probably wondering when your hair will begin to grow back and if the rumors that it can change color and texture are true. Less talked about are the emotions and feelings that can arise when virgin hair begins to surface.

    Hair Growth & Styling Tips For Short Hair After Chemo

    February 7, 2021

    Post-Chemo hair growth and styling can be a nightmare to navigate. The number one thought on most womens minds during and after chemo is how and when will my hair grow back. Then, when the time does come, the hair texture and color may be unfamiliar causing a host of new challenges.

    Having the tools and the knowledge to navigate short hair after chemo will make a world of difference and help you feel more confident at each stage of the growth. So lets jump right in as I share all of my hair secrets with you about how to grow & style short hair after chemo.

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    Help With The Cost Of Wigs

    You can get free synthetic wigs on the NHS if:

    • you’re under 16, or you are 19 or under and in full-time education
    • you’re a hospital inpatient
    • you or your partner are getting Universal Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance or the guarantee credit of Pension Credit
    • you have an NHS tax credit exemption certificate
    • you are named on a valid HC2 certificate

    Cancer Research UK has more information on getting a wig on the NHS.

    Coping With Hair Loss

    BALD, BRAVE & BEAUTIFUL! Losing your hair with cancer and chemotherapy. Breast Cancer Inspirational

    Hair is constantly growing, with old hairs falling out and being replaced by new ones. Some cancer treatments make people lose some or all of their hair, most often in clumps during shampooing or brushing.

    Its normal for both men and women to feel upset about losing their hair. It helps to know that hair grows back, and you can take steps to make its loss less of problem for you.

    Hair is lost when chemotherapy drugs damage hair follicles, making hair fall out. It can be hard to predict which patients will lose their hair and which ones wont, even when they take the same drugs. Some drugs can cause hair thinning or hair loss only on the scalp. Others can also cause the thinning or loss of pubic hair, arm and leg hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

    Radiation therapy to the head often causes scalp hair loss. Sometimes, depending on the dose of radiation to the head, the hair does not grow back the same as it was before.

    If hair loss is going to happen, it most often starts within 1-3 weeks of treatment and becomes more noticeable 1 to 2 months after starting therapy. Your scalp may feel very sensitive to washing, combing, or brushing. But hair often starts to grow back even before treatment ends.

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    Design Setting And Participants

    A prospective cohort study conducted at 5 US medical centers of women with stage I or II breast cancer receiving adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens excluding sequential or combination anthracycline and taxane . The study was conducted between August 2013 and October 2014 with ongoing annual follow-up for 5 years.

    / Is It Only The Hair On My Head That I Will Lose

    Besides the hair on your head, you can also lose the rest of your body hair, i.e., the hair on your arms and legs, your eyebrows, eyelashes, armpit and pubic hair. Again, this depends on the type of chemotherapy and it can also vary from person to person.

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    Hair Loss And Regrowth After Chemotherapy

    Losing your hair during chemotherapy is not easy, but it can be easier to cope with if you have a better idea of what to expect.

    Heres what cancer medical professionals and survivors told The Patient Story worked for them.

    Contributing perspectives in this resource come from multiple cancer patients as well as Dr. Doug Blayney of Stanford Medical Center.

    Hair Loss Background

    When does hair fall out after chemo and how long does it take to grow back?

    This varies person to person. Generally speaking, hair loss caused by chemotherapy happens around two to four weeks after the start of treatment or around the start of your second chemotherapy cycle. Often people may find they start losing their hair in clumps during a shower, while brushing hair, or discover it on their pillow after sleep.

    The extent and pace of hair loss depends on a number of treatment factors, such as the type of chemo drug, dosage, frequency of treatments, and how the chemo is administered.

    Be sure to ask your doctor and/or nurse about your chemotherapy regimen and whether its known to cause hair loss.

    For the most part, thankfully, chemotherapy does not cause permanent hair loss. In rare cases, however, some higher-dose radiation therapy targeting the head may result in permanent hair loss.

    Will hair look the same when it regrows after chemo?

    Styling & Solutions

    When should I cut my hair or shave my head?
    Can cold caps or cooling caps prevent or lessen hair loss?
    What kind of wigs are there?

    Other FAQs

    Easing Worries About Radiation Therapy

    The Wigging: Breast cancer patient shaves head before ...

    Its normal to worry about possible side effects of radiation therapy.

    Talk with your health care provider about your concerns.

    Your provider may be able to suggest a hospital social worker, patient navigator, psychologist or support group to help ease anxiety related to radiation therapy .

    With any standard radiation therapy, you will not be radioactive when you leave the radiation treatment center. You will not pose any radiation risk to your family or your pets.

    Learn more about support groups.

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