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Brain radiotherapy and hair loss

Radiotherapy to the head will cause some hair loss. The hair normally grows back once the treatment ends but might be different to how it was before.

Hair loss and brain radiotherapy

Radiotherapy to the head always causes some hair loss. If you are having treatment to a particular part of your head, your hair only falls out in that area. You might also have some hair loss on the opposite side of the head, where the radiotherapy beams pass through. This area is called the exit site.

Your hair usually grows back when your treatment has finished. But it may not be quite as thick as before and in some people can be patchy. The more radiotherapy you have had, the longer your hair takes to grow back. In some people it may grow back a different colour. Or the hair may be curly when it used to be straight.

Hair washing tips

During your treatment, you need to wash your hair carefully so that you don't make the area sore. Use warm or cool water. 

Be gentle with your hair and use a non perfumed shampoo or baby shampoo only.

It is best not to use a hair dryer but to gently dry your hair with a soft towel. Or you can let your hair dry naturally.

Let your radiographer know if the skin gets sore and they can advise you on how to care for it.

Head coverings

You might like to cover your head with a soft hat or scarf to protect the exposed skin and keep your head warm. 

The video shows you the different types of hats and scarves you can wear when you have hair loss.

Some people prefer to wear a wig until their hair grows back. You can get a wig on the NHS or buy one privately. Speak to your radiotherapy staff who can advise you on any wigs, hats or scarves they sell in the hospital.

You might want to cut your hair short before the treatment starts. This can make the change less dramatic and easier to cope with. But speak to your doctor beforehand to check how much hair you might lose.

Last reviewed: 
14 Mar 2016
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