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Coping with hair loss

Hair loss due to cancer treatment can be very stressful. There are some practical things you can do to help. 

Before treatment

You might find that it helps to cut your hair very short before your treatment starts. This can help you to get used to seeing yourself with less hair.

This means that when your hair does start to come out, the change won’t be so dramatic. And you see less hair on your pillow and in the shower.

During treatment

You might decide to cover your head with a soft hat or scarf if some - or all - of your hair falls out.

This helps to protect your scalp from the sun and keeps your head warm in cold weather. You may need to wear a soft hat in bed to keep your head warm.

Other people prefer to wear a wig until their hair grows back. These days, wigs are very natural looking. Most people won’t be able to tell that you are wearing one.

Your feelings about hair loss

Some people find hair loss one of the hardest parts of having cancer treatment.

This is understandable because our appearance is closely linked to our feelings of self esteem. Trying to accept sudden changes in your looks can be very hard. Social activities might seem more difficult.

It’s not unusual to feel angry and depressed. You might feel worried about how your friends and family see you. And you may think that you are no longer as physically attractive.

If you have children or grandchildren, you might worry about how they feel about seeing you without hair. You might also worry about how their friends will see you, and if this will affect your children. It’s natural to worry about these things.

Remember though, that the people closest to you will not see you any differently as a person.

They will want to support you as much as they can, so it is important to tell them how you’re feeling.

Talking things through can help you to feel less isolated and more able to cope.

Contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Last reviewed: 
28 Mar 2014
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