Hair loss does not happen to everyone.

Right now it is important to clarify whether or not hair loss is likely to happen to you. If you have only just been diagnosed, you may have not yet been offered treatment options. Once you know, the Oncologist and/or nurses can tell you if the treatment you will be receiving which is specific to you, will result in total hair loss or just thinning of the hair.

It is a common misunderstanding that all chemotherapy treatments cause hair loss, in practice they do not.

Once you receive this information it is highly advisable to come into us before treatment starts to pick out your wig.

Why does it hurt?
If you do experience this, whilst not pleasant, it is normal and will normally stop once the hair has all fallen out. It can be explained by understanding that your skin may be more sensitive as a result of chemotherapy and that when the hair is moving through the dermis (skin) layer and as it falls out can be that little bit extra sensitive for some. In our experience, people with long thick hair may experience this more, as the weight of the hair is putting extra pressure on the scalp.

What can I do to help reduce the sensitivity?
There are a few things that you can do to help reduce the sensitivity

  • Do not tie the hair back into a bun / ponytail
  • If you have long hair, consider getting it cut short
  • Do not wash your hair in a shower, as the pressure of the water pelting down on the scalp can cause the scalp to become tender
  • When washing your hair do not vigorously rub but just gently massage
  • Do not dry the hair with the hairdryer on a high heat
  • Gently comb the hair
  • Use a gentle shampoo without any chemicals or fragrances

It is at this stage, many of our clients will make an appointment to get their hair cut shorter or even a pixie hair style, as they do not wish to see their hair fall out and also helps to reduce sensitivity. As our clients have come into us and picked out their wig before any hair loss, they will at this stage go home with the wig on.

Should I shave my hair?
If you experience sensitivity to the scalp, it is advised not to shave your hair, as it can make the scalp inflamed, very sensitive to the touch and can become very dry and itchy.

A cold cap (scalp cooling) is one of those things that until you are faced with the possibility of losing your hair you probably won’t have heard much about it
Every hair on the body grows out of a hair follicle. Small blood vessels in the scalp supply the cells of the hair follicles with food and oxygen, and carry away waste products. So the chemotherapy drug, which travels in to the bloodstream, will also be carried to the hair follicles.
When blood vessels in the scalp are cooled they become smaller, therefore restricting the blood circulating in that area and reaching the follicles. Cooling the scalp during chemotherapy means that less of the chemotherapy drug reaches the hair follicles, so the hair is less likely to fall out.
The cap is put on fifteen minutes before chemotherapy to start restricting blood flow, and kept on during and up to 1-2 hours after your chemotherapy. This does mean that your time in the unit is longer.
Not everyone can tolerate wearing the cold cap, as it can feel very cold and uncomfortable. This discomfort varies from patient to patient so it is not a failure if you can’t wear it and it has no influence on the outcome of your treatment.

If a cold cap is not available or suitable, then unfortunately there is currently no other way to prevent hair loss

How does the cold cap work?
Every hair on the body grows out of a hair follicle. Small blood vessels in the scalp supply the cells of the hair follicles with food and oxygen, and carry away waste products. So the chemotherapy drug, which travels in the bloodstream, will also be carried to the hair follicles.
When blood vessels in the scalp are cooled they become smaller, therefore restricting the blood circulating in that area and reaching the follicles. Cooling the scalp during chemotherapy means that less of the chemotherapy drug reaches the hair follicles, so the hair is less likely to fall out.
The cap is put on fifteen minutes before chemotherapy to start restricting blood flow, and kept on during and up to 1-2 hours after your chemotherapy. This does mean that your time in the unit is longer.
Not everyone can tolerate wearing the cold cap, as it can feel very cold and uncomfortable. This discomfort varies from patient to patient so it is not a failure if you can’t wear it and it has no influence on the outcome of your treatment.

How effective is it?
Scalp cooling can be very effective in preventing or reducing the loss of your hair, unfortunately, some people who have scalp cooling will find that their hair thins out.
Scalp cooling protects only the hair on your scalp. Body hair Ðincluding eyelashes, eyebrow-may be lost.

Can I colour my hair if I use the cold cap?
As professionals in hair care we get asked this question all the time and the answer to it is simply, NO you should not colour your hair if you use the cold cap.
There are several significant factors to why it is not advisable to colour the hair whilst using the cold cap:

Cancer treatments will cause damage to the physical hair itself by damaging the follicles, glands that produce natural oil made from the body (used to moisturise the skin and hair) and has an impact to synthesize proteins critical for providing growth, strength, and structure.

When undergoing treatment, the chemotherapy drug has still affected the hair that has not fallen out and will usually be porous and have uneven protein scale pattern in the cuticle. This uneven protein in the cuticle is what creates that kinky or sometimes unmanageable characteristic.

One particular protein that cancer treatments tend to effect is tyrosine. Tyrosine is a particular importance to human hair as it regulates the production of melanin. Melanin is the hair’s natural colour pigment and also enables hair to ‘hold’ onto artificial colours.

Without sufficient tyrosine protein, hair will have a difficult time sustaining artificial hair colour dyes and can turn the hair pink or orange. These include Organic semi-permanent colours, Henna, and vegetable dye.

These processes can be unhealthy while you’re body is battling cancer. The chemicals in common hair treatments like hair dyes or perm solutions can not only irritate fragile skin and hair, but also give off fumes that can cause nausea, eye irritation, and other problems. Since the scalp is covered with skin, which can absorb what is placed on it – particularly if the product is left on for a period of time, not only will dying or processing hair expose patients to additional chemicals, but these processes can also weaken the hair shaft or make the hair fall out.

Regrowth of your new hair will generally start after you have finished the treatment that affects your hair.

At what speed does new hair grow?

The growth rate of hair can vary from person to person a great deal. The average hair grows at approximately half an inch (1.25centimetres) a month. It's important to remember that following chemotherapy the hair nearly always grows back but it can take a while.

For most people, once treatment has finished the first new hairs can peek through quite quickly, usually this means that the new hair is visible within a matter of two to three weeks. Following treatment your body may be run down and depleted of nutrients this can be part of the reason why it takes a little longer than normal to grow.

The hair growth often returns to a quicker and more stable rate once the body has recovered and regenerated. This may feel frustrating but there are plenty of ways to enhance your short hair until it reaches the length you like.

Some people may notice that their hair starts to grow back before treatment has ended. Either way, the new hair growth may be a bit patchy and uneven to begin with.

Often the slowest growing areas are around the hair line at the front of the head, nape of the neck, and the crown area. Everyone should find that normally after 2 – 3 months a covering of hair will be visible and so a very short crops style will start to evolve. In our experience, on average, it takes around 5 – 8 months before the hair is long enough to have a short textured style.

Hair Loss
Hair loss refers to complete loss of hair, resulting in none or very little hair remaining.hair loss pattern

Hair Thinning
Hair thinning means that your hair may look and feel thinner then normal (less volume). This means that some hair may fall out, but that you won’t experience complete hair loss. You may find that one particular area of you hair feels and looks thinner, or there is just less hair all over.

The amount that your hair thins is individual to you.

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113 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, Ireland | Tel: (01) 873 3443 / (01) 873 3251 | info@snipswigs.ie