Hair Care for Cancer Survivors

VIDEO | 09:00

Hair loss and thinning are common problems for people with cancer who are treated with chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or radiation therapy, says Memorial Sloan Kettering dermatologist Mario Lacouture. Hair may begin to grow back two to three months after treatment ends, but it may have a different texture or color.

Cutting or shaving your hair before treatment begins may be less traumatic than letting it fall out in clumps. To cover up hair loss, you may consider wearing a wig, hat, or scarf. Hair thickeners, sprays, and powders may help to conceal the scalp when hair loss is not significant. Your doctor may check your levels of iron, thyroid hormone, zinc, and vitamin D if you experience persistent hair loss. Topical medications such as minoxidil and supplements such as biotin may help promote hair growth.

Hormone therapies used to treat breast cancer can actually increase facial hair. Dr. Lacouture recommends removing unwanted facial hair with threading at a salon. Avoid shaving, chemical depilatories, plucking, or waxing, which can injure or burn skin.