Some Lymphoma treatments can cause thinning hair or even hair loss. Knowing what to expect and what you can do about it may help you cope with losing your hair.
Why does it cause hair loss?
Hair loss is a side effect of some chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. Effects on your hair are usually temporary and can include slight thinning, partial loss, complete loss and changes in colour or texture. Some treatments affect the pigment in your hair follicles, causing a streak or band of white hair. This is usually reversible.
Hair loss with Chemotherapy –
Hair loss is common in people treated with chemotherapy. Overall, around two-thirds of people treated with chemotherapy experience hair loss. Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause hair loss than others. Certain drugs that can cause hair loss include:
- doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
Whether or not you lose your hair is also affected by the dose of your chemotherapy, how you have it and how often you have it.
If you’re on a chemotherapy regimen that causes hair loss, your hair usually begins to fall out within a couple of weeks of starting treatment. It tends to start at the top and sides of your head, above your ears. It might fall out gradually, in clumps, or it might fall out quickly. You may notice hair on your pillow or your clothes, in your hairbrush, or in the shower drain. As well as the hair on your head, your eyebrows, eyelashes, facial hair, armpit hair and pubic hair might fall out.
Hair Loss with targeted drugs –
Hair loss is uncommon in people treated with targeted drugs, affecting fewer than 15 in 100 people. It is even less common in people treated with immunotherapy (treatments that use your immune system to fight your lymphoma, for example antibody therapy): fewer than 2 in 100 people are affected.
Hair Loss with radiotherapy –
People treated with radiotherapy only lose hair in the precise area being treated. All people lose hair in the treatment area.
Tips to prepare for hair loss –
- Think about cutting your hair short or shaving it off completely. Shorter hair can make your hair look thicker and make hair loss less noticeable. Some people find it more comfortable than longer hair.
- You might also consider shaving your beard and moustache if you have them. This can help you get used to having less hair and give you a sense of control over your situation.
- Decide in advance whether you want to cover your hair loss. There are lots of different headwear and cosmetic options. Try some out beforehand to see what works for you.
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