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Your hair care during Chemotherapy



Hair Loss Expert Lucinda Ellery’s Tips on Haircare during Cancer Treatment

Lucinda Ellery has been helping women with hair loss for over 25 years, including women with alopecia and medically-induced hair loss from chemotherapy cancer treatment. She notes, “the word ‘chemotherapy’ conjures up fear in patients but it should be looked upon as a course of treatment doing good and not harm.” Hair loss is difficult, but for the most part temporary. Here are some of Lucinda’s insights…and comforting advice:

  • Hair loss usually begins after the second round of chemotherapy, but this of course changes from person to person. During chemotherapy all the hair is put into, and stays, in its resting phase known as telogen. Telogen happens to you every day regardless of medical treatment. An average head has up to 150,000 healthy hairs and sheds 50-125 of these a day. However, during chemo the hair follicles remain dormant until treatment has been completed so no new hair grows in to replace hair that has shed. Loss starts becoming visible when more than 100 hairs come out regularly.
  • Once you have completed your treatment you usually start to see fine white vellous hairs which can resemble soft baby-like down approximately within 4-6 weeks. After this, hair usually returns to its natural color and texture.
  • Once hair starts to shed, it is not affected by handling so don’t be tempted stop your usual hair care routine in the hopes of retaining hair! In fact, during that period of shedding it is best to keep the scalp clean by shampooing as normal because it makes the scalp feel more comfortable and, when hair starts to regrow, the scalp is in optimum condition.
  • A wig can definitely help, not only with aesthetics but also with pain management! I once visited a patient in hospital who would not allow anyone to touch her hair, but she was in a lot of pain as the lost hair had become entangled with the hair that was still securely anchored within the follicles. I spent an hour or more listening to her concerns. The main one was that she felt if her hair was cut, she would never have it back and she would not feel feminine. I explained that she would feel more comfortable and there would be less chance of infection if the hairs that were under tension were removed. She agreed and I cut away the matted hair and fitted a wig, which was then cut and styled to suit her. A few months later, the lady came to see me. Her hair had re-grown and she said that it had really helped to discuss her fears and that the wig helped her through this not only physically but also emotionally difficult period in her life.
  • If you choose to wear a wig it is best to consider this as early as possible, as you need time in choosing the right color and style. Wigs look more natural if they are one shade lighter than your own hair color, as your skin tone does change while under going any intensive medical treatment.
  • Patients can also consider using the Intralace™ prosthesis which at first may act as a wig but as soon as hair starts to regrow, this system will allow full integration with the new hair coming through. It is constructed from a breathable mesh and is integrated into the clients’ existing hair without the need to cut or shave natural hair, an added plus when after treatment you want to retain whatever hair has grown in!
  • Rest easy: wigs and extensions will NOT interfere with hair regrowth. In fact, keeping the head covered and warm encourages hair growth!


Advice from Lucinda Ellery

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