What do you do when, a few weeks after starting chemotherapy, your hair starts to show signs of falling out? Well, if you are planning on wearing a wig, now is a great time to go wig shopping, especially if you want to try to match your own hair color. Take a girl-friend with you, it can be fun and therapeutic spending an afternoon trying on cute or crazy wigs. Although my hair is naturally shoulder-length and black, I bought two fun, short wigs in brown and blonde. I had always wondered what it would be like to be blonde, this was the ideal time to find out and I really loved my new hairstyle. Try to time the wig shopping for the end of your chemotherapy cycle when you are more likely to have energy and your immune system has recovered.
What about the day when copious hairs appear in the shower or on your pillow in the morning? One option is to cut your hair short, perhaps two inches long and let it fall out gradually. Psychologically this makes the transition to no-hair a little easier. It also means that you can start wearing your wig, hats, scarves, whatever you are planning on using as a head-cover, immediately if you want to. Another option is to just wait until you are losing a lot of hair and then close yourself in the bathroom and help the natural course of hair-loss by gently pulling out loose hair. Be aware that there is a 5-7 day period when hair-loss is at it’s maximal when your hair follicles actually hurt! Yes, they are painful. So although the tendency at that point might be to cut your hair extremely short, say half an inch, it actually makes the loss much more painful. Anything you put on your head, such as wig, hat, scarf or even lying on your pillow at night makes those little short hairs press into the scalp and it feels like tiny needles poking into your head.
Make the most of your new bald state, it won’t last long. I have to admit that while I would not ever have wanted to stay bald I did appreciate the fact that getting ready in the morning took no time at all. A quick shower and towel dry and I was ready for the day! No shampooing, blow-drying or styling to do! Choose the hair-cover that works best for you. I loved my blonde and brunette wigs, they made getting ready in the morning so easy. Shake out the wig, pull it on and you are done. But have to admit that most days by the time it got to the evening I ended up ripping them off my head and throwing them on a nearby chair where they would sit looking rather like a flat guinea pig or other small animal. Other times I preferred to wear hats. Personally, I liked hats with brims to cover my neck and shade my face but baseball caps also look cute. Just make sure you get one that is fairly deep and doesn’t have a cut-out at the back so that you get enough coverage. Soft cotton beanies were also really comfortable and were a must at night when I found that my head tended to get really cold. Scarves are also another option during the day. I found that cotton scarves worked best as they stayed in place whereas silk scarves tended to slide off my shiny head. And then there is the option of just being bald. Increasingly as I got used to being bald and was more comfortable with how I looked, I went out without anything on my head more and more. If you do this just make sure that you protect your scalp with sunscreen to avoid sunburn on that delicate skin.
One last thing, and this isn’t a guarantee, but anecdotally I have lost track of the number of people who have told me that their hair grew back thicker and more beautiful than it was before. Yes, I think after what you have been through you definitely deserve beautiful hair!