Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Hair Loss From Cancer Treatment - Topic Overview

Hair loss can be emotionally distressing. Not all cancer treatments cause hair loss, and some people have only mild thinning that is noticeable only to them. Your doctor will be able to tell you whether hair loss is an expected side effect of your treatment.

Hair loss from chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can cause hair loss on all parts of the body, not just the head. Facial hair, arm and leg hair, underarm hair, and pubic hair all may be affected.

Not all chemotherapy medicines cause hair loss. Talk to your doctor about what you can expect.

Hair loss usually doesn't occur right away. More often, your hair will begin falling out within a few weeks after the start of treatment. Your hair may fall out gradually or in clumps. The hair that remains may be very dry or brittle.

Hair almost always starts growing back in 2 to 3 months. The new hair is usually very fine. Your hair may look different when it comes back. It may grow back with a different color or texture.

Hair loss from radiation

Radiation causes hair loss only on the part of your body that is being treated. For example, you will lose some or all of the hair on your head if you have radiation for a brain tumor. Or you will lose the hair on your leg if you are having radiation to your leg.

Hair loss usually doesn't occur right away. More often, your hair will begin falling out within a few weeks of treatment. After your hair starts falling out, it takes about a week for you to lose all the hair in the area you are getting radiation.

Hair usually grows back within 3 to 6 months after falling out. But sometimes with very high dose of radiation, hair doesn't grow back. When hair does grow back, it may be a different color or texture.

Managing hair loss on your head

Your scalp may be tender or sore while you are losing your hair and afterwards. Here are some ways to take special care of your hair and scalp.

  • Use a mild shampoo and a soft hair brush.
  • Try to air-dry your hair. If you have to use a hair dryer, use the low-heat setting.
  • Consider having your hair cut short. A shorter style will make your hair look thicker and fuller. It also will make hair loss easier to manage if it occurs.
  • Consider shaving your head. If you shave your own head, use an electric shaver.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase.
  • Do not use brush rollers to set your hair.
  • Do not dye your hair or get a permanent while you are taking chemotherapy or having radiation treatments to your head.
  • Use a sunscreen, sunblock, hat, scarf, or wig to protect your scalp from the sun.
1 | 2
Next Article:

Hair Loss From Cancer Treatment Topics

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article