Why cancer patients cut their hair?

 “Why cancer patients cut their hair”

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Cancer patients often choose to shave their heads before losing all of their hair. Hair loss is a very real possibility when you have cancer and are ready to start chemotherapy. Hair loss is one of the most common side symptoms reported by both men and women after being diagnosed with cancer. While cancer does not usually result in hair loss, a frequent cancer therapy can. Chemotherapy kills rapidly growing cells, resulting in side effects in three areas. Bone marrow is damaged, which normally regenerates rapidly, resulting in low blood cell levels and an increased risk of infection. Because the lining of your mouth and your gastrointestinal system both have a high rate of cell turnover, chemo patients frequently suffer from mouth sores and diarrhoea. Finally, hair follicles, particularly those on the patient's head, are affected.

Most people provide two reasons for shaving their heads, before completely losing their hair. One reason is that they are aware that they will lose their hair and want to be in control of the situation. The other reason is that as hair starts to fall out, it gets everywhere and is quite bothersome.

Emotional toll

Understandably, many people find this to be a very difficult period. Patients can expect a tidal surge of emotions as a result of cancer therapy. It can be difficult to comprehend so many major changes, from getting surgery to losing their hair to dealing with a diminished libido. Furthermore, most of it is physically unpleasant, which can add to the emotional strain.

Chemotherapy and hair loss

Chemotherapy drugs are very effective drugs that are used to treat cancer cells that are growing rapidly. Unfortunately, these medications also target your body's other quickly developing cells, including your hair roots. Chemotherapy can result in hair loss all over the body, not only on the scalp. Eyelash, eyebrow, armpit, pubic, and other body hair can fall out at any time. Some chemotherapy medicines induce hair loss more than others, and differing dosages might result in anything from thinning to total baldness. Fortunately, hair loss caused by chemotherapy is usually very temporary. After your treatment, your hair should regenerate in three to six months, though it may be a different shade or texture for a while.

Hair loss generally starts two to four weeks after you begin therapy.

It might either fall out in clumps or gradually. During your treatment and for a few weeks thereafter, you will experience hair loss. Your therapy will determine whether your hair thins or you get completely bald. Hair loss is an unpleasant side effect of cancer therapy, according to cancer patients. Every time they look in the mirror, their altered appearance serves as a reminder of the disease and everything they've gone through since the diagnosis.As a result, most cancer patients opt to shave their heads because it offers them a sense of control over an emotionally draining condition.

Cutting or shaving hair is recommended

Short hair has a fuller appearance than long hair. As a result, if you have short hair, hair loss will be less visible. Going short may also help you make a smoother adjustment to complete hair loss than if you have long hair. During treatments and while their hair is falling out, some patients report that their scalps are itchy, sensitive, and irritated. Shaving your head might help you avoid the irritation and humiliation of shedding. Shaving might help avoid the irritation and humiliation of shedding.

Radiation therapy and hair loss

Radiation therapy, like chemotherapy, targets rapidly developing cells in the body, but it only affects the area where the treatment is focused. If your head is exposed to radiation, you will most likely lose your hair. Your hair will usually begin to regrow when your treatments are completed. However, your therapy will determine whether it returns to its previous thickness and fullness. The impact of different types of radiation and dosages on your hair will vary. 

Higher radiation dosages might result in permanent hair loss. Radiation therapy has an effect on your skin as well. It's conceivable that the treatment area may be red and seem burnt or tanned. Because the skin will be sensitive to cold and sunlight, it's a good idea to wear a protective cap or scarf if radiation treatment is done to the head. The scalp may be irritated by wigs and other hairpieces.

Hormonal therapy and hair loss

Hair loss or thinning can occur as a side effect of several hormonal treatments used to treat breast cancer, most commonly at the frontal hairline, the middle region, or the crown of the head. Hormonal treatments work by decreasing estrogen levels or inhibiting estrogen's effects in the breast tissue, which then inhibits hair follicle development.

Targeted therapy, Immunotherapy and hair loss

Some targeted treatments for breast cancer treatment can cause changes in the texture and colour of your hair, as well as minor hair loss. Hair loss is uncommon with immunotherapy, however it has happened in a small number of individuals using the immunotherapy Tecentriq.

Prepare for hair loss during cancer treatment

Make the decision to prepare for hair loss before treatment begins if your doctor has recommended a chemotherapy medication that is known to cause hair loss.

  1. Wigs

Before your hair starts to fall out, attempt to purchase a wig. Buying one before hair loss is preferable since you may pick one that best matches your hair colour and have it on hand when hair loss begins.

  1. Opt for a haircut before treatment begins

Before their hair starts to fall out, many women opt to cut their hair short or shave their heads completely. Short clumps of hair falling out in the shower or in your hands are far less startling than a handful of lengthy strands. Furthermore, hair tends to grow in uneven spots, which short hair might assist to temporarily conceal.

  1. Use sunscreen

If you go outside after your hair has fallen out without covering your head, you must wear sunscreen to avoid becoming sunburned. When a sunburned scalp is paired with a sensitive scalp, it may be quite unpleasant.

  1. Find a support group

Most people aren't as emotionally prepared as they thought they were before undergoing chemotherapy. This is why having someone to talk to who has had chemotherapy-related hair loss might be beneficial. Chemotherapy support groups are excellent locations to learn how to deal with hair loss while receiving treatment.

Because hair loss is so apparent, it may be distressing. You may believe it exposes your cancer status to the public, jeopardising your privacy. And you could have to deal with it at the same time that you're dealing with other treatment-related changes to your body and appearance. Of course, not everyone has the same experience with hair loss as a result of treatment. It may be traumatic for some, especially in the beginning. Others find it inconvenient, but it does not effect them as much.

If you're concerned about hair loss, don't isolate yourself out of embarrassment or fear of being labelled superficial. Talk to understanding friends and family, a mental health professional, or a social worker at your local cancer centre about your feelings. Also, look for a local support group or an online network for breast cancer survivors. Connecting with people who are through cancer treatment and experiencing hair loss can be very beneficial since they can relate to your situation and offer advice.


  1. https://www.self.com/story/this-is-why-some-people-with-cancer-shave-their-heads-before-losing-their-hair

  2. https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/side_effects/hair-loss

  3. https://www.verywellhealth.com/prepare-for-chemo-hair-loss-582047

  4. https://chemocare.com/chemotherapy/side-effects/hair-loss-and-chemotherapy.aspx

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