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Hair Loss From Treatment And How To Deal With It

How To Care For Your Hair During Radiation And Chemotherapy

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The following tips for caring for your hair and scalp during chemotherapy and radiation therapy are based on recommendations from the National Cancer Institute:


  • When you wash your hair
    • It is generally recommended that you do not shampoo more frequently than 3 times a week.
    • Use mild shampoos. Baby shampoo works very well
    • Use a conditioner to combat dry and brittle hair.
    • Pat your hair dry instead of rubbing it 
  • Sun protection
    • Use hair care products containing sunscreen.
    • If you have significant hair loss, use a sunscreen or sun block on your scalp, or cover your head for protection.
  • Styling
    • Use a soft hairbrush and a wide tooth comb.
    • Use gels, mousses and sprays with light or medium holding power. Stronger preparations are harder to shampoo out.
  • If your hair becomes tangled:
    • Don't pull.
    • Hold the tangle, then gently comb through the tangled hair.
  • Consider having your hair cut short. A shorter style will make your hair appear thicker and fuller. Also, in the event of hair loss, the appearance may be less dramatic.
  • Sleep
    • Consider sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase.
    • To prevent hair on your pillow, consider catching hair loss at night by wearing a hairnet, mesh cap or other head covering, or put a towel over your pillow. 
  • If you swim in a pool: 
    • Before swimming, protect against chlorine damage by thoroughly wetting your hair with water. The water plumps the hair, minimizing chlorine absorption and its drying and brittle effect. 
    • For additional protection, after wetting your hair, apply a conditioner or silicone-based styling gel. When done, cover your hair with a swim cap. 
  • In cold harsh weather, wear a hat or scarf around your head to keep your scalp from drying out.
  • A scalp massage may make your scalp feel better. 


  • Don't use 
    • A hair dryer. If you do use a hair dryer for a special occasion, keep it on the lowest / coolest setting.
    • Rse rollers. If you feel you must on occasion use rollers, be sure they are soft (foam). Do not sleep in them or use electric or other heated rollers.
    • Hot curling irons.
  • Don't hold your hair with:
    • Hair barrettes or clips.
    • Rubber bands or other hair bands. They will cause breakage.
  • Don't use products that may be harsh on your hair. For example:
    • Don't dye your hair, get a perm, or use hair straigheners.
    • Don't use gels, mousse, oil, grease or pomade. 
    • Avoid hair care products that contain bleach, ammonia, peroxide, lacquer or alcohol.

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