The Effects of Radiation on Female Hair Loss
A Loss of Femininity
As if having cancer and needing to undergo radiation therapy weren't enough, insult is added to injury when a woman's hair begins to fall out after treatment. Although doctors will most likely forewarn the patient of this, it is still a traumatic change that requires some preparation and adjusting to. Sorrow and self-consciousness are typical feelings that result from this temporary loss, and some women may feel less feminine. Support from family and friends, and other cancer patients, can help with difficult feelings like grief, anger, and isolation.
Radiation and Hair Loss
Hair loss from the scalp can be the result of radiation therapy on the head. Hair may begin to fall out as early as ten days from treatment; it can take a half year to grow back fully on the surface, and in some cases the loss is permanent. Permanent loss really depends on individual's reaction to the dosage and whether not other treatments are being administered. If the hair does return, it is common for it to be a different shade or texture than before.
Before undergoing therapy, you may want to consider choosing a wig that looks similar to the hair you have now. These days there are many natural styles to choose from, including pieces made from natural hair. They may be more expensive, so check with your health care provider to see if it can be paid for by your insurance. Cotton scarves may be a desired option for covering your head. The material will stay in place easily, and there is a lot of versatility with styles, colors, and prints. Having a friend or family member help you select something beforehand may save you some much needed energy later.
The scalp will be sensitive after therapy, so it's important to use sunscreen, or wear scarves or hats to protect from the sun and keep your body temperature regulated. You can encourage a healthy scalp as well as growth of hair with natural products that are mild and free of chemicals, which will now be even harsher on your sensitive scalp.
- Look for natural cleansers such as tea tree oil which reduce sebum, or build up of dead cells on the scalp. This will also help impede clogs to the hair follicles.
- Avoid cleansers and shampoos that contain sodium laurel sulfate, as this synthetic substance is over drying.
- Boost the immune system with herbs such as flower pollen extract (not to be confused with bee pollen) and echinacea. Aloe vera is also a versatile agent; when taken orally, it may boost the immune system; when applied topically, it can enhance the protection of sunscreens, and act as an anti-microbial.
Radiation therapy can be life-altering, and require many personal lifestyle adjustments. Hair loss is one unfortunate side effect which may be difficult to deal with. Take measures to care for your health with the support of your doctor, family, and loved ones.
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