So I’ve been told hair loss typically starts 2 weeks-1 month after beginning chemo. I’m about to start my second week, and think I will end up shaving at some point. So do you all think it’s better to shave before the hair loss starts, or once it starts coming out? Also I’ve heard that you’re supposed to leave something like 1/8 inch of hair when shaving so it doesn’t irritate your scalp. Any tips?
I'm not so sure that my situation is likely to be all that helpful to you, but it might help others,
My hair started to fall out gradually rather than in one big bang (pun intended). I had also stopped work and so I wasn't going to be "on display" to explain things. Consequently, I decided to do the "big shave" at a big family get-together for Christmas in July (2017).
I used hair clippes, but without any comb. Everyone who wanted to could have a go at shearing my head. This left me with the barest of stubble and I had no irritation that can occur from shaving with a razor.
I now get a #4 buzz-cut every month because it is much easier to manage on a day-to-day basis.
My only real recommendation to you, is to make a big deal about it with your family. A bit of a statement that you are facing this journey head-on (another pun intended) and that you "have nothing to fear, but fear itself".
Hugs and best wishes to you on your particular journey.
Hi Rick and Julia
I've met with my Oncologist and the lovely nurses in the chemo unit today. I had a lot of questions and hair loss was one of them.
My chemo starts next week. I was told to expect some hair loss. I shouldn't go completely bald, but it will thin out considerably. I mentioned it would be good if just the grey hair falls out. I don't know if it's scientifically proven, but the nurse told me the grey hair won't fall out. That will be the only hair that stays. I kind of believe her.
A shave might be in my near future. Who want's to do the honours?
I and 61 and was told I would likely lose some hair as well with 6 weeks of chemo and radiation to go through so I prepared with a number 6 all over, got beanies and baby shampoo but lost no hair that we could see.
Still get my number 6 and my wife is now a wizz at it so go for it not much to lose.
Didn’t trust going for a number 4 but no harm either.
Hi. There JuliaOO.
All very different experiences for everyone.
my hair started falling out about 2weeks after my first Chemo
there are things when you are going through treatment that you do have control over and of course things you don’t . So I took control 2 week in and got it shaved and Never looked backed
Regards the itchy scalp I continued to condition my scalp/hair with hair conditioner and it was not a problem for me.
look after yourself
As a female with really long hair that I regularly colored and curled, hair loss was something that really worried me when I was first diagnosed with stage 3b Hodgkin's leukemia/ lymphoma. I'd always had lovely long hair and it was something that people commented on. Not everyone with my chemo loses their hair and I'd hoped to be one of the lucky ones. In preparation for possible hair loss, I got my hair cut to shoulder length.
Unfortunately, I started losing my hair within a couple of weeks of starting chemo. It was incredibly distressing seeing huge chucks of hair falling out. I dreaded washing my hair and waking up to see how much hair I'd lost overnight on my pillow. After 3 or 4 days I took matters into my own hands and found a lovely lady in Canberra that previously had cancer and currently sells chemo caps and hats, and offers a free shaving/cutting service for cancer patients. Sue made the experience of shaving my hair off the best it could be and I felt great that I had taken control of something that was distressing me. At the time I wondered if I had shaved my head too prematurely, but over time the little 'spikes' fell out too - so I definitely made the right decision.
I can't tell you if you should or shouldn't shave your head. At the end of the day cancer takes so much from us and you should feel in control and comfortable with the decision you make. I can say that your hair doesn't define you and you will still be the same you without it. I have a wig but never really wear it, I just wear a chemo cap out in public. At home I don't really care and have sent a photo of me bald to friends and family. I'm too sick to work and not sure what I'll do when I return to work - but probably will continue to wear my chemo caps. There's lots of designs out there and you can make them a fashion accessory if you want too - at the moment I don't really but may care more when I return to work.
Anyway, I hope my experience may have helped you.
All the best,
Hi again Julia00
Forgot to answer the last part of your question, sorry. I had no irritation when I had my head shaved using clippers. After shaving my head, I continue to 'wash' my hair. This is because your head still produces oils, so washing your head is good for that as well as stimulating new hair growth.
All the best,
It’s such a personal decision to make! I’m sure you’ll get lots of tips & ideas here.
It had been suggested to me to cut my hair short/er once I started chemo, so that the transition to no hair wouldn’t be as dramatic. My hair started falling out by the handful a few weeks in & I soon found myself upset & obsessively searching for clumps of hair - it was absolutely everywhere! That was when I knew I had to take action.
My son gave me a 3-stage cut. As much as possible we turned it into a fun and adventurous experience. Initially he gave me an undercut & braided the remaining hair into a Viking style (I’m 58 lol). Then he buzz cut Celtic knotwork into the undercut - I wish we’d taken photos! The final cut was an all-over stubble cut.
The reason it’s suggested to not shave the hair too close to the scalp is to ensure that there are no injuries to any lumps or bumps that may be on the scalp which could easily get infected given our compromised immune systems whilst on chemo.
Shaving my head was the most freeing, liberating thing I’ve ever done. I was so anxious beforehand, because my hair was the only thing I loved about my appearance. It was a revelation to look at myself in the mirror afterwards with love & compassion and see my precious, true self.
Let us know what you decide & how it goes for you 💞
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