Caring for your hair during Chemotherapy
The first thing I thought of when was told I was going to be undergoing chemotherapy was that I would lose my hair. I started reading about caring for your hair during chemotherapy to try and prepare myself for it.
As vain as it sounds, one of the things I love doing is styling my hair. I’d also finally found a style that I really loved and suited me as a busy mum of two. Darn it!
I decided two things when I got my chemo treatment plan: that I would cut my hair as short as I could bear so it was easier to maintain and that I would try and prolong the life of my hair my using the cold cap treatment during chemotherapy.
I asked my Oncology nurses for tips on caring for your hair during chemotherapy and did some research online and this is what I’ve been doing to keep it healthy and to date, still on my head! I will add that I’m only into my second chemo cycle so there’s everything to play for :)
1. Wash hair as little as possible
I was previously washing my hair 2-3 times per week but it’s much better to put as little strain on your hair as possible. I’m now washing it 1-2 times per week and that’s working out well. In fact, whatever is in the chemo drugs seems to be drying it out and that’s great as mine is normally very oily. I did expect to use dry shampoo more but I’ve purposefully not done that, I don’t want to add anything to my hair if I can get away with it.
2. Use Baby shampoo
Try and find a very gently shampoo to use when you do have to wash your hair. I have stolen my baby’s shampoo and it’s so lovely and gentle and smells lovely too! I’m using Curash’s 2 in 1 Conditioner (ph balanced) and I also love Curash Soothing Oatmeal Conditioning Shampoo for the kids.
3. Use a wide toothed comb
Do not be tempted to brush or use your fingers to rake through your hair. You really need to try and touch your hair as little as possible – which is weird as I’m used to playing with mine all of the time! I literally now comb it once in the morning, stick in a bobby pin to keep in place and then leave it until the next day. It’s a far cry from spending time curling and styling it just a few months ago :) It really is easy peasy though and one less thing to worry about in the morning routine.
4. Do not use hair straighteners or curlers
It probably goes without saying but don’t put any strain or damage on your hair at all. I wouldn’t even be tempted to straighten the ends. Now I’m in the fortunate position of having fairly straight hair and I can’t advise much for ladies with curly hair but I would just try your best to not add any unnecessary tension or stress to your hair at all. Try not to use styling products or tools or even hair bands that will pull if you can.
I have also been advised not to use a hair dryer but there have been times when I’ve needed to because I can’t go outside with wet hair and risk catching a cold.
5. Be kind to yourself
My hair, rightly or wrongly, is a big part of my identity to me. I have always loved having hair that I can style in different ways and having very suddenly gone from that to hair that is so short, thinning rapidly and that I can’t really touch has been hard.
Try and be kind to yourself and tell yourself that it is only a temporary change – which it is. Yes, your hair might never be the same again but it won’t always be so limiting and difficult to look after it.
Ignore those who tell you “it’s only hair” – that’s very easy for them to say. It isn’t only hair, it’s your hair. This isn’t forever though.
Here is me after I chopped my hair off:
I’ve never had such short hair! The shortest it has been prior to that is probably chin length and that was when I was in school – about 25 years ago.
I must say it is so much easier to get up, give it a quick come, bobby pin it to one side and go – there are some benefits to chemo perhaps after all :)
Do you have any tips on dealing with thinning hair, hair loss or even styling short hair?
Disclosure: the beautiful people at Curash, having heard that I’ve been using their shampoo, have kindly sent me some more to use during my chemo treatment :)