Hair loss from cancer treatment can cause a range of emotions and reactions, and choosing how to navigate that hair loss – or the regrowth process – is a very personal journey, specific to each person. If your loved one is struggling with hair loss, it’s important to know they have options.
Managing hair loss
If your loved one is just starting to experience hair loss, your role as a caregiver may shift to helping them prepare for and manage the emotions that come with this change. While everyone is different, there are some steps you can take to help them navigate the process:
- Ask your senior’s care team if hair loss is expected during each phase of treatment, and if so, when it can be expected and to what degree.
- Opting for shorter haircuts as hair starts to thin can help in the transition and lessen the embarrassment that may come from losing hair.
- Research various products to help in this process. From wigs to cooling caps and special hairbrushes, there are many tools that help increase comfort and dignity.
Once hair loss begins, you can help your loved one cope and ease their discomfort in many ways, including scaling back on harsh shampoos or styling products, using scalp-moisturizing shampoo, wearing night caps and more. Do your research to determine which mix of processes and tools will help your loved one navigate this chapter in their life. Online communities like Look Good Feel Better offer a wealth of resources for managing hair loss and maintaining style, personality and dignity.
Shopping for hair loss solutions
Many products are available for each stage of the hair loss and regrowth process:
The Manta Hairbrush from Loshen & Crem offers an ergonomic design and soft, rubber bristles to provide extra comfort for sensitive scalps.
- Patented FLEXGUARD technology allows for a complete 360-degree motion to free knots
- Completely bendable to help minimize breakage
- Nonslip grip
- Works on wet or dry hair
- Suitable for all hair types and extensions
JS Health offers a detangling and smoothing hairbrush in an ergonomic design to help massage the scalp while brushing.
- Soft bristles that detangle while massaging scalp
- Supports scalp health and hair regrowth by increasing blood flow
- Lightweight, ergonomic handle
Cooling caps can offer relief from pain and itching due to chemotherapy.
The NatraCure Chemotherapy Cooling Gel Ice Cap is designed to fit over ponytails and offers cooling from gel/ice technology in a fitted cap. This cap also claims to help reduce hair loss because it works to constrict blood vessels, which has been shown to limit the amount of chemotherapy drug that reaches hair follicles.
- Rounded top and adjustable for maximum fit and comfort
- Maintains constant contact with scalp
For a simpler cap at a lower price, the Hilph Ice Cap for Chemotherapy is made of plush, soft fabric that fits snuggly over your head for constant contact (and is also ponytail-friendly).
- Fits snuggly like a stocking hat
- Nonslip design to stay in place on scalp
- Claims to reduce hair loss from restricting blood vessels on the scalp
- Can slip over eyes to provide additional relief
Choosing a hat with the right comfort, size, coverage and style will likely take time and require trying several types. Headcovers.com offers a wide range of wraps and hats to suit almost any body type and style. Browse an online catalog, the resources section (which offers step-by-step instructions, guidance and advice for all things headwear), and take advantage of the company’s generous return policy.
Moisturizers and body cream
Because chemotherapy and radiation both tend to cause scalp irritation, itching and soreness, a scalp moisturizer is a good idea.
The Oncology Body Cream with Botanicals from PhysAssist is clinically tested and shown to ease discomfort within minutes of application.
- Nongreasy, nonstaining formula that can be applied from head to toe
- Light lavender scent
- Delivers relief within 10 to 15 minutes of application
- Vitamin E to improve skin health while providing relief
For patients undergoing radiation treatment, the Unitech Medical Radiation Cream is made of special ingredients to treat the effects of radiation burns with an herbal remedy used for more than 30 years.
- Non-GMO, vegan, steroid-, paraben- and nut-oil-free ingredients
- Rated safe by the EWG Skin Deep Database
Hair regrowth medication
While there are a wide range of options, the most common active ingredient in hair-regrowth products is minoxidil. Make sure to research the side effects of using minoxidil and speak with your loved one’s physician before starting use.
Amazon Basic Care Hair Regrowth Treatment for Women promises to aid in hair regrowth and uses a formula specific for women in a topical foam that works to penetrate the hair follicles directly.
- 5% minoxidil
- Topical aerosol foam formula
- Clinically proven to regrow hair in as little as three months
If your loved one prefers oil over foam, the HERS Hair Regrowth Treatment for Women is a great option that includes 2% minoxidil and promises to regrow hair within three to six months.
- Works when applied to dry, parted hair
- Twice-daily application that leads to hair regrowth in three to six months
Another common ingredient in hair-growth products is biotin, or vitamin B7, which produces keratin production that leads to an increased rate of follicle growth. Biotin is usually used in supplements and vitamins, like the soft gels from Sport Research.
These Vegan Biotin Supplements with Organic Coconut Oil include 10,000 mcg of vitamin B7 with cold-pressed organic virgin coconut oil, which support nail and hair growth.
- Vegan, non-GMO, soy-, gluten- and carrageenan-free
- Manufactured in cGMP-compliant facilities and third-party quality tested
- Soft gel formula that makes it easier to swallow
- Daily treatment for hair regrowth
Also important in the hair regrowth process is reducing damage to new hair strands. Because new hair is more fragile, it’s important to incorporate products and processes that protect new growth and allow it to strengthen.
In addition to providing additional sleeping comfort, a silk pillow during and after cancer treatment has been shown to provide a gentle environment that fosters hair growth and prevents breakage.
The Amazon Basics 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase features a more refined type of silk for reduced stress on the skin and hair while sleeping and is cool to the touch.
- 100% mulberry silk
- Breathable, hypoallergenic
- Hidden zipper
- Machine washable (air-dry only)
- Available in seven colors
For a higher-end sleeping experience, the Fishers Finery 100% Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase has earned several Good Housekeeping, CNN, HGTV and Glamour awards.
- Envelop flap to keep pillow in place
- Can be used as a sham or pillowcase
- Dry clean or wash on gentle cycle
- Two-pack comes in 11 colors
The journey of hair loss and regrowth from cancer treatment is a personal one, and it’s important to provide emotional support as well as physical aid during this time. Finding the right mix of products and resources to aid in your loved one’s treatment and recovery can make all the difference in the world.