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While you’re in treatment you may experience hair loss, a common side effect of chemotherapy. Losing your hair is temporary. It happens because the chemotherapy affects the cells that are responsible for your hair growth. Some hormone therapies and biological therapies can also make your hair thinner and dry. Two weeks after your first cycle of chemotherapy, you may start to notice you’re losing a lot of hair on your pillow, in the shower or when you brush your hair. Your scalp may feel very tender because your hair follicles are breaking off. You may also lose hair in other places on your body like your brows, eyelashes, arms, legs and pubic area.

Although this can be an upsetting time, keep in mind that your hair usually starts to come back four to six weeks after chemotherapy treatment stops and around three to six months after the end of radiation treatment.

To limit hair loss and protect your scalp when you’re in treatment, be gentle with your hair and wash the hair on your head less frequently. You can also use a protein conditioner to help add body to fine hair and use a soft hairbrush. Try to avoid colouring your hair, perms or extreme heat as these may irritate your scalp further.

Remember to protect your scalp when you go outside. Make sure you’re using sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyelashes. Avoiding sun and protecting your skin is important.

Every woman deals with losing her hair differently. You may choose to cover your head by wearing a wig, scarf or hat, or you may be comfortable with no head covering.

Speak with your health care team to learn more about how to cope with hair loss.