Cancer patients tend to lose hair when they receive certain chemotherapy drugs or when they receive radiation therapy. For patients receiving radiation therapy, the hair loss is limited to the area of the body where the treatment is taking place.
Some chemotherapy causes hair loss because it attacks the fast-growing cells in your hair roots.
Manage Hair Loss
You can prepare for and cope with hair loss by following these tips.
Tips for Easing Hair Loss
Taking some extra time and care when washing, drying, and styling can help ease hair loss related to chemotherapy.
- Use a mild shampoo.
- Use hair brushes with soft bristles.
- Skip the hairdryer, or use low heat.
- Do not use brush rollers to set your hair.
- Do not dye your hair or get a perm.
- Have your hair cut short to make it look thicker.
- Use sunscreen, a hat, a scarf, or a wig to protect your scalp from the sun.
- Use a satin pillowcase.
- Learn more about dealing with hair loss from chemotherapy.
- Listen to this recording to learn more about hair loss from radiation therapy.
Select a Head Cover
Some people who lose all or most of their hair choose to leave their heads uncovered. Others wear hairpieces, wigs, caps, scarves, or turbans. Here are some tips to follow if you choose to cover your head with a wig or hairpiece. Learn more.
- To match the natural color, texture, and style of your hair, shop for a wig or hairpiece before you lose a lot of hair.
- Learn more about managing hair loss and other appearance-related side effects of treatment from the Look Good Feel Better program.
- Look for a wig or hairpiece at a specialty shop just for cancer patients. A salesperson may be able to visit your home to help you.
- Find information about free wigs and additional resources in your community from the National Cancer Information Center (NCIC). Call 1-800-227-2345.
- Shop for wigs or hairpieces through the “tlc” Tender Loving Care® catalog. To order products or catalogs, call 1-800-850-9445.
Get Financial Assistance
Options are available for low-cost or no-cost ways to help you manage your hair loss.
Borrow a Head Cover or Wig
If you would like to borrow a head cover or wig, talk to a social worker at your doctor’s office or local hospital.
Explore Partial or Full Insurance Coverage for Head Covers
Head covers may be covered by your insurance. Talk to your doctor about a prescription. Ask for a prescription that says “cranial prosthesis,” and not “wig.”
For more detailed information on support options, visit Get Support.
Talk to Your Health Care Team
Your health care team needs to know how you’re doing. Be sure to tell them about any changes you notice.
Talk to Family and Friends
Your loved ones want to support you. They can help with activities like housework, running errands, and getting to appointments. Be as specific as possible about the kind of help you need.
Find Peer Support
Talk About Your Concerns
Peer groups offer a welcoming environment to share your feelings and experiences with people who are going through the same things. Use the American Cancer Society’s Resource Search to find a peer group in your area or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 for personalized assistance.
Visit the Cancer Survivors Network Online
The Cancer Survivors Network is an online community with more than 40 discussion boards where cancer survivors share their cancer-related experiences, support one another, and exchange practical tips.
NCI Cancer Information Service
Speak to a National Cancer Institute health information specialist by calling 1-800-4-Cancer.
The National Cancer Institute offers live, online assistance through its LiveHelp service.
ACS National Cancer Information Center
Get information and tips from a cancer information specialist at the American Cancer Society by calling 1-800-227-2345. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The American Cancer Society offers live, online assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Select the Live Chat option from any page on cancer.org.