why do you lose hair during cancer
Hair loss occurs because chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells healthy cells as well as cancer cells. Hair follicles, the structures in the skin filled with tiny blood vessels that make hair, are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. If you're not in cancer treatment, your hair follicles divide every 23 to 72 hours. But as the chemo does its work against cancer cells, it also destroys hair cells. Within a few weeks of starting chemo, you may lose some or all of your hair. If you are having, your hair loss may be gradual or dramatic: clumps in your hairbrush, handfuls in the tub drain or on your pillow. Whichever way it happens, it's startling and depressing, and you'll need a lot of support during this time. Some chemotherapy drugs affect only the hair on your head. Others cause the loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, pubic hair, and hair on your legs, arms, or underarms. The extent of hair loss depends on which drugs or other treatments are used, and for how long. The
all produce different reactions. The timing of your treatments will also affect hair loss. Some types of chemotherapy are given weekly and in small doses, and this minimizes hair loss.
Other treatments are scheduled every three to four weeks in higher doses, and may be more likely to cause more hair loss. Adriamycin (the A in CAF chemo treatment) causes complete hair loss on the head, usually during the first few weeks of treatment. Some women also lose eyelashes and eyebrows. Methotrexate (the M in CMF chemo treatment) thins hair in some people but not others. And it's rare to have complete hair loss from methotrexate. Cytoxan and 5-fluorouracil cause minimal hair loss in most women, but some may lose a great deal. Taxol usually causes complete hair loss, including head, brows, lashes, pubic area, legs, and arms. Other types of breast cancer treatments may also cause hair loss. For example, Radiation only causes hair loss on the particular part of the body treated. If radiation is used to treat the breast, there is no hair loss on your head. But there might be loss of hair around the nipple, for women who have hair in that location. Radiation to the brain, used to treat metastatic cancer in the brain, usually causes complete hair loss on the head.
Tamoxifen may cause some thinning of your hair, but not baldness. No matter how forewarned you are and how ready you think you are, it's always a terrible shock when your hair falls out. Not all drugs that treat cancer cause hair loss, but many of them do. The good news is that itБs almost always temporary. Here are 12 things you can do while you wait for your locks to grow back. Get informed. б Not all drugs will affect your hair the same way. Some only cause gradual hair thinning. Others may cause your hair to fall out in clumps. Make hair loss less scary by asking your doctor what exactly will happen. Prepare your family. б Depending on their age, children may be scared or even embarrassed by your hair loss. Let them know what to expect and why your treatment is so important. The more positive you can be, the better theyБll react. Go easy on your hair. б To slow down hair loss, stay away from shampoos that contain strong fragrances, alcohol, or salicylic acid. For now, donБt color, perm, or chemically straighten your hair.
DonБt use rollers, curling irons, or straightening irons. Use a soft-bristle hairbrush, and instead of using a blow-dryer, let your hair air-dry. Try a shorter style. б Shorter hair doesnБt lie flat against your head, so it can make your hair look thicker and fuller. (ItБs also easier to manage under wigs. ) If you choose to shave your head, use an electric shaver or have it done at a barbershop. Plastic razors can cut your scalp. Take care of your skin. б As you lose your hair, your scalp may get tender or itchy. Some people even feel a tingling sensation. A moisturizing shampoo and conditioner can help, as will a gentle lotion you massage into your scalp. Rest easy. б Wearing a soft cap or turban around your head at night can help collect loose hair as it falls out. DonБt braid your hair or put it into a ponytail, since both can tug on it. A silk pillowcase will also reduce friction when youБre asleep. Cover up. б A scarf or hat when you go outside will shield you from the cold. If you choose not to wear one, donБt forget to apply sunscreen to your scalp to protect against sunburn.
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