Preparing for hair loss during the COVID-19 pandemic
By Dr Melanie Pascale
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak our Centres are temporarily closed.
Alongside this, our wig fitter is currently unable to provide the wig fitting service, whilst hairdressing salons and wig making salons are temporally closed too.
This blog will explain what hair loss is and how it is caused by chemotherapy, and ways to prepare for this in our current situation.
What is hair loss and what causes it?
Some cancer treatments can cause your hair to fall out or can cause hair thinning.
Different types of chemotherapy drugs have varying side effects, while radiotherapy causes hair loss only in the area where treatment is focused.
Hair loss from chemotherapy occurs because chemotherapy is designed to target rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells. Consequently it also targets rapidly dividing healthy cells such as hair follicles, the structures in the skin filled with tiny blood vessels that make hair and are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body.
Hair loss from cancer treatment can affect people in different ways. Your consultant and Cancer Nurse Specialist will explain what side effects to expect from the treatment you have been prescribed.
Preparing for hair loss
If your consultant has prescribed a chemotherapy drug that is known to cause hair loss, it may be beneficial to you to prepare yourself for hair loss before treatment begins as early preparation can help you cope when your hair begins to fall out.
Some ways to prepare for hair loss include:
- Buy a wig or an alternative to a wig
- Go online hat and scarf shopping
- Buy sunscreen
- Join a Big C support group
- Call our free helpline for further information and support
Things to remember
- Do not use heat products, hair dryers and straighteners etc. as this can quicken the rate of the hair loss.
- It’s recommended that when patients start to lose their hair, that they wear a cotton or bamboo night cap. It can feel quite distressing when you wake to find a lot of hair on the pillow, plus the material is also cooling.
The video below by Cancer Research UK provides information about different types of headwear available for those effected by hair loss.
Other hair loss resources
Carole is a Norfolk-based wig specialist and is happy to give advice over the phone to those who need it. You can call her at 01328 700468
Suburban Turban provides chemotherapy hats and stylish cancer hats all handmade to order in the UK.
Bold Beanies offer a range of beanie hats, headscarves and wraps for men, women, teens and kids. They are available in liberty prints, plain colours, or you can choose a design of your own choice. There are also gifts and accessories for people with hair loss.
Heads High sell a range of hair replacement systems, an alternative to wigs. The hair replacement is designed to be worn with a hat or scarf. The system includes a soft stretchy cotton liner on the top of the head with human hair or heat resistant hair which is attached to the outside of the cap liner, so nothing but soft cotton sits against the scalp.
Wigs are available online for adults and children.
Bohemia Fashions specialises in head wear for hair loss and offers an online shop for comfortable head scarves, hats, turbans and bandanas for adults and children.
Chemo Headwear provide a range of hats, turbans and ready tied headscarves. They are all hand made in the UK and available in small, medium and large sizes. You can order online or over the phone.
Direct Wigs have a large selection of manmade and human hair wigs. The company is online and mail order only.
Hats 4 Heads supply a wide range of soft, comfortable hats, sleep hats, scarves, bandanas, turbans, buff/stretchy tubes and other head coverings for those experiencing hair loss. Free brochures and telephone ordering available for those without internet access.
Hairware have a large selection of manmade and human hair wigs and accessories such as hair bands.
Annabandana provide a selection of headwear you can order online or over the phone.
There is a network of wig banks around the UK that offer new and donated wigs for sale and hire. People donate wigs they no longer need. The wigs are washed, conditioned and sold for between £10 and £30.
Wigtopia is an online retailer of wigs and hair pieces.
Buffwear sells a wide range of Buffs, also know as stretchy tubes.
At Big C, we understand that cancer may have a detrimental effect on a person’s self-image, and hair loss and thinning due to cancer treatment can be upsetting and play a significant role in low self-esteem.
Big C is here if you need support. Our Cancer Specialist Nurses and Officers can provide advice and support around hair loss and other changes to your appearance caused by a cancer diagnosis.
Call us at 0800 092 7640 (free to call, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) if you need support.
Dr Melanie Pascale is the Director of Charitable Operations at Big C.
Link to resources provided by Cancer Research UK.