What to know and how to choose


Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. How you choose to deal with it is a personal choice.

You can cover your head with a scarf, hat or wig. When you decide to wear a wig, there are several types to consider. Ideally, you should choose one that you feel comfortable and confident in.

Read on to learn more about chemotherapy wigs and narrow down your choices.

Hair loss from chemotherapy depends on the type and dose of medication you receive. Hair loss from radiation depends on the body part being treated National Cancer Institute.

Hair loss usually occurs a few weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment, although this may not appear until after the second cycle. Your oncologist can let you know if your treatment is likely to cause hair loss and give you a timeline of what to expect.

If your doctor confirms that you will lose hair, you can start preparing. Some people cut their hair short while others shave their heads. You can choose to wear a mesh cap to catch any falling hair. If you have long hair, you can sell or donate it.

It’s important to remember that hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary American Cancer Society. Sometimes small amounts of hair grow back between sessions. After the treatments, your hair will likely grow back within a few months.

It may regrow in a different color, texture, or thickness. For example, it can be curly, straight, thick or fine. Often these changes are temporary and your hair will return to its pre-chemo state after a while.

To prevent hair loss, you can wear a cooling cap during chemotherapy. This can slow blood flow around your hair follicles and decrease how much chemotherapy reaches them.

However, cold caps may not be appropriate in all treatment cases. They can also come with high costs and negative side effects. Talk to your oncologist if you want to learn more about this option.

In addition to hair loss, chemotherapy can cause increased itching, irritation and scalp sensitivity, so treat your hair and scalp gently. Sleep on a silk pillowcase, brush your hair with a soft-bristled hairbrush, and use gentle hair products. Avoid chemicals, dyes and heat treatments.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a wig.

For example, ask yourself:

  • How often will you wear it?
  • How long will you use it?
  • How much money do you want to spend?

It’s also a good idea to consider the climate around you, especially if you live in a place where it’s frequently hot or rainy.

Decide whether you want a full or partial wig. You can also opt to add bangs, side parts, and ponytails to remaining hair or headpieces. Think of possible accessories, including scarves, barrettes and clips.

If you want to wear a wig that matches your current hairstyle, take some pictures of your current hair and mark the last photos. Section off a section of hair to represent your desired wig color. Always use natural light to compare wigs to your hair sample.

If you decide to try a new style, color, or length, make a collection of photos to use for inspiration. You can chat with your barber for tips, ideas, and insight. In fact, buying a wig can be a great way to try a new look.

To ensure a good fit, wet or straighten your hair before measuring your head. If possible, choose an adjustable wig in case your head size changes. Some wigs have a padded grip band that reduces heat and increases comfort, especially when chemo increases scalp sensitivity.

Wigs vary in material and construction.

synthetic wigs

Synthetic wigs are often affordable and durable. They require minimal styling and hold their color well.

Synthetic wigs take 8 to 12 hours to dry, so plan your washes accordingly.

human hair wigs

Human hair wigs are more expensive but can look and feel more natural than synthetic options. They also last longer and offer more styling options as they are easier to color, cut and style. On the other hand, they react to the weather and fade in sunlight, so they need more maintenance.

Corresponding Breastcancer.orgWig construction options include:

  • Basic. Braided wigs are made up of rows of strands of hair that are sewn onto fabric. In terms of temperature, they are the coolest option, plus they offer volume. Braided wigs are the cheapest type, costing around $75-$150.
  • lace in front. This option features a sheer lace fabric with hand tied hair at the front hairline for a more natural look with mobility. Prices range from around $150 to $200. Custom lace front wigs cost more.
  • monofilament. These wigs are made by hand tying hair into a lace wig cap for a natural look that is easy to style. They are cool, light, breathable and appear less bulky. You can buy a full wig or just a crown, part or top. They cost around $200 to $300.

You can buy a wig in person at a local store or from an online retailer. Consider seeking advice from oncologists, nurses, or social workers at your treatment center. You can also talk to your hairdresser.

Purchasing in person allows you to make sure you get the right fit and see how the wig looks before you buy it. Also, you can visit the shop if you need to resize or readjust the wig.

If you prefer privacy, check if the shop offers private one-to-one services. Find out if it’s possible to try on and return wigs where you live, as health regulations vary by region.

If you have insurance, also check if your policy covers wigs. For example, some plans cover them if you have a prosthetic skull or a wig with a prosthetic hair.

Original Medicare Parts A and B do not consider wigs to be a medical necessity and do not cover them. Meanwhile, certain private Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans cover wigs, although coverage plans vary.

Keep in mind that you may be able to claim a wig as a tax-deductible expense.

Wigs need care and maintenance.

After you have bought your wig, you can have your hairdresser cut and style it to your liking. When using products, combs and brushes, only use those designed for wig care.

Wash your wig every 10 to 14 days. If you use hair products, you may need to wash them more frequently. Use cool water when shampooing as hot water can melt glue. Afterward, use a towel to blot it and spritz with conditioner. Place the wig on a stand to dry.

Do not dye your wig or use heat treatment. If you decide to use a blow dryer, only use the cool setting. While storing your wig on a stand, keep your wig away from heat, dust and moisture. You may want to cover it to protect it when not in use.

Do I have to wear a wig cap under a wig?

You can wear a wig cap under your wig for comfort, protect your scalp and smooth your hair.

However, if it feels too hot, tight or uncomfortable, you can do without it.

Where can I find free or cheap wigs?

Some charities help people with cancer find free or inexpensive wigs. Please turn to:

  • American Cancer Society
  • cancer care
  • Verma Foundation
  • Society for Leukemia and Lymphoma
  • Sierra Vista Butterfly Club
  • wigs and wishes

Chemotherapy is probably a delicate time, so be gentle with yourself.

Make sure you prepare for possible hair loss and have an idea of ​​your wig preferences – including the type of materials, construction and style.

It’s natural to experience a range of emotions during chemotherapy. Do your best to appreciate and acknowledge your feelings throughout the process.

For additional help and advice, turn to someone you trust, consult a doctor, or join a support group.


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