Hair loss

Many people having chemotherapy worry about hair loss (alopecia). Whether or not you lose your hair will depend on the drugs you are prescribed. Some people lose all their hair quickly and others lose it after several treatments, while others may lose only a little hair or none at all. Although losing head hair is most common, you may find your eyebrows and eyelashes fall out, and you may lose hair from your underarms, legs, chest and pubic region.

When hair loss does occur, it usually starts 2–3 weeks after the first treatment. Before and while your hair is falling out, your scalp may feel hot, itchy, tender or tingly. Some people find that the skin on their head is extra sensitive, and they may develop pimples on their scalp.

After chemotherapy ends, it takes 4–12 months to grow back a full head of hair. When your hair first grows back, it may be a different colour or curly (even if you have always had straight hair). In time, your hair usually returns to its original condition.

Learn more about:


Coping with hair loss

Many people find losing their hair difficult. Your hair may help form part of your sense of self – its loss can affect your self-confidence and make you feel sad or vulnerable. For many people, it’s a public sign of the cancer diagnosis. Talking to your treatment team may help.


Scalp cooling

Some people may be able to reduce or prevent hair loss by using a “cold cap”. This works by temporarily reducing the blood flow and the amount of chemotherapy drug that reaches the scalp. A cap is worn on the head and attached via a hose to a cooling unit, which fills the cap with cold liquid. It is worn while the chemotherapy is delivered.

The cold cap can only be used with certain drugs and types of cancer, and doesn’t always prevent hair loss. Check with your doctor or nurse whether a cold cap would be an option for you and whether it is available at your treatment centre.


Tips for managing hair loss

  • Keep your hair and scalp very clean. Use a mild shampoo like baby shampoo. If you want to use lotion on your head, use sorbolene. Check with your nurse before using any other hair or skin care
  • Comb or brush your hair gently using a large comb or a hairbrush with soft bristles.
  • Explain to family and friends, especially children, that the chemotherapy may make your hair fall out.
  • Cut your hair, especially if it is long, before it falls out. Some people say this gives them a sense of control.
  • Wear a light cotton turban or beanie to bed if you are cold at night.
  • Use a cotton, polyester or satin pillowcase, as nylon can irritate your scalp.
  • Talk to your hairdresser about making your hair look as good as possible even if it is thin or patchy. If you want to dye your hair during or for about six months after chemotherapy, it is best to use vegetable- based, non-chemical dyes.
  • If your eyelashes fall out, wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from dust and sun.
  • Wear a wig, hat, turban or scarf, or go bare-headed – whatever feels best to you. If you prefer to leave your head bare, protect it against sunburn and the cold.
  • Consider choosing a wig before chemotherapy starts. Call Cancer Council 13 11 20 for assistance in finding a wig library or shop.
  • Consider registering for a Look Good Feel Better workshop, where you can try on wigs and other head wear and learn new make-up techniques. Call 1800 650 960 or visit lgfb.org.au.
  • For more on this, see Hair Loss, or call 13 11 20.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on Chemotherapy.


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in August 2018
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