Chemotherapy causes temporary side effects like nausea, extreme fatigue, and hair loss. Even though hair loss is temporary, it can cause many Black women to lose their sense of identity and femininity.
Not all forms of chemotherapy cause hair loss, so be sure to check with your doctor. If your oncologist informs you that this will be a side effect of your treatment, there are ways to deal with hair loss from chemotherapy to regain your sense of self.
Cooling caps are one way to try and reduce the amount of hair loss. These are caps filled with a cold gel that fit tightly against your head as you receive chemotherapy infusions. The coldness of the cap narrows blood vessels on the scalp, allowing less medication to affect the hair follicles and preventing hair loss.
If you wear hair extensions or a weave, you’ll need to remove them so the cap can fit as snugly as possible to your scalp.
If you do lose your hair, you’ll need to wear moisturizer, preferably one with sunscreen, on your scalp to make up for your hair’s natural oils. You’ll want to choose a lighter oil than you would normally use since your natural hair won’t be able to absorb it. Too much oil or moisturizer could cause your wig or head covering to slip.
If you normally wear extensions, wigs, or tight hairstyles like braids, you might want to change your hair before your first infusion. Any extra strain on your hair could make it fall out faster. Some women cut their hair short begin beginning chemotherapy, and many also shave their heads when their hair begins to fall out. Acting on your hair loss can give you a sense of control.
If you’re new to wearing wigs, there are few things to keep in mind when purchasing your first wig.
When your chemotherapy is over, and your hair begins to grow back, there are a few precautions you’ll need to take, as the regrowth could be fragile. You’ll want to wait until at least a few inches of hair has grown back before using chemical relaxers or hair extensions. But coloring new hair growth is typically safe. Don’t be afraid to experiment with fun colors to celebrate the end of an immeasurably tough time!
Along with these ways to deal with hair loss from chemotherapy, you’ll need a support system of family and friends. Don’t forget to take care of your emotional health!