Chemotherapy is used to treat cancer using powerful drugs. Cancer cells grow very rapidly and the potent chemotherapy chemicals destroy them. Countless lives have been saved, prolonged, and enriched by this treatment. However, like most other medicines, there are side effects, such as hair loss. Since hair follicle cells also grow rapidly, the drugs cannot tell the difference between these and the cancer cells, they attack all fast growing cells in the body. This is why hair loss can be a result of chemotherapy.
Your doctor knows what side effects are likely depending on the drug given. Today, some new chemotherapy drugs can recognize the difference between a cancer cell and a hair follicle cell. In this way, the hair of the patient is saved. Otherwise, patients can expect to lose all hairs which are in the active growing phase of the growth cycle—which includes 90% of all hairs. Different drugs, though, cause different hair loss patterns: Taxol (paclitaxel) causes sudden overall loss, while Cytoxin (cyclophosphamide) causes partial loss as the hair thins out without total loss.
Some patients invest in wigs, which can be a useful solution during the hair loss period of chemothearpy treatment. Wigs can be inexpensive for a poorly made model, while professional, convincing wigs can cost into the thousands. Since hair loss is temporary, patients undergoing chemotherapy typically opt for wigs and these can give a real lift to the psychological effects of losing one’s hair (and for a short shaved style Micro Scalp Pigmentation is also a viable option, discussed later). Of course, wigs are not permanent and can come off when not intended. For this reason, some patients become creative and use a variety of alternatives such as spunky caps or graceful hats, scarves, or turbans.
Thankfully, chemo-induced hair loss is often not a permanent condition (though there are exceptions). Hair usually grows back within 6-8 weeks following treatment. Some doctors recommend the use of minoxidil, which is the same as Rogaine, since this product has been shown to accelerate hair regrowths up to months sooner. Some temporary side effects include curlier hair with a different texture. Hair usually returns to normal within a year.