Hair Loss

People who are undergoing radiation therapy lose hair only at their treatment site, so if your head is part of the treatment area, then you may lose the hair on your head. Hair loss usually occurs 2-3 weeks after you start your treatment.

Losing your hair can be difficult to deal with. The following are some suggestions to help you prepare for hair loss and what to do once your hair is gone:

  • Some people cut their hair short before treatment because it is easier to deal with once it starts to fall out.
  • You can let your hair just fall out on its own. While you’re in treatment, wash your hair with a mild shampoo and pat it dry – no rubbing or blow-dryers.
  • Don’t use hair gels, mousses, etc. on your hair while in treatment.
  • Have your barber or hair stylist shave your head – some do this before their hair starts to fall out, others wait – it's up to you and how you feel about your hair loss
  • Use scarves, hats or wigs
    • If you cannot afford wigs, the American Cancer Society provides a wig bank and will help you find something suitable, whether you want to keep your same hairstyle and color, or go for something new.
    • If you decide not to wear a wig, make sure that you protect your scalp when you are outdoors or in the cold. Cover up against both cold and sun – ask the doctor to recommend sunscreens.
  • Your hair should grow back within 3 to 6 months of treatment unless you were treated with very high radiation, in which case, your hair may not grow back. Ask the doctor if you are concerned.