Chemo and hair loss - Advice please

Hi everyone - I will be undergoing chemo very soon and I'm slightly terrified of the prospect of hair loss. I'm going to use cold caps but I was wondering does anyone else have any tips or advice. Are there certain shampoos you can use ? Does it effect everyone in the same way or is it genetic. Sorry if these are silly questions. Thanks! Kate

20 Replies

  • Hi Kate,

    Never used the cold cap, didn't feel it was for me.

    I shaved my head and got a fabulous wig and went bold in the house, but wore hats in the winter.

    My hair has grown back better than ever and went without a wig 5 months after end of treatment.

    I wish you all the best and I'm sure the ladies will be able to help and give good advice, Regards

    Carole xxx

  • Hi Kate,

    I didn't use the cold cap so cannot comment on it, but I did shave my hair grade 2 allover when it started coming out and it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.

    I have 12 weeks regrowth at the moment as on carbo only at the moment so hoping to still keep the little bit I have. It's only about 1 cm allover but already feels like it will be thicker than ever before.

    I had quite long hair before treatment but now I think I will keep it short for a while, never would of plucked up the courage to have it cut short otherwise.

    Take care and try not to worry about it.

    Mandy, xx

  • I didnt use cold caps ever, I picked out my wig before I started treatment and when it began to fall went and got a shave and donned my wig which was a lot better than my own hair. That way I had no issues with sore scalp etc.

  • Hi Kate

    I think it may depend on which chemo you have...I had carboplatin and taxol and was told that I would lose my hair-the cold cap wouldn't save it. I think I found it easier to accept because it was very clear. To be honest I don't think I would have coped with the cold on my head but it was the winter..on a day like today it could be a blessing!

    Go with your favoured option but don't stress too much, even if you do lose it you will get it back later xx L

  • Hello Kate

    I think the degree of hair loss depends upon the type of chemo. Carbo/Taxol is almost assured you will lose it. I never used, nor was offered the cold cap. If your oncologist has advised you that you are likely to lose your hair it would be an idea to research now the types of wigs available. If it then becomes apparent that you will lose your hair, despite the cold cap, you can then quickly arrange for one that suits you. Your hospital probably can advise as they often provide vouchers for free, or nearly free, wigs.

    For me personally, my wig is much better than my real hair so I am not much perturbed by the hair loss, other than the wig can feel quite warm when the sunshines (not often this year). These days, it's almost impossible to tell someone is wearing a wig, the technology has moved on so much!

    Good luck and keep in touch with us. It can be quite daunting facing your first chemo.


  • I used the cold cap when having weekly taxol. I didn't lose my hair.It is best to have you hair cut short to allow the cold to really get to the roots of your hair.wet your hair before you put the cap on and make sure you are given the correct size for your head .no gaps especially on the crown.

    It is uncomfortable at first but you will get used to it. A parecetamal helps if it hurts. Good luck with it it certainly worked for me. Georgie

  • I didn't use the cold cap as I was already anxious enough about the chemo without adding five hours of ice on my head. For me the hair loss was a small price to pay for getting better - compliments about the wig, my headscarves and now my new short hair helped me along the way. I use Weleda calendula shampoo and body wash. Everyone is different - if you can tolerate the cold cap, go for it. Important thing is to keep looking beautiful whatever you opt for!

  • I had the cold cap I didn't lose my hair you will be ok sending my love your way good luck xxx

  • Hi Kate - I had carbo/taxol and used the cold cap and kept 80% of my hair. I did have it cut from a 'bob' to a short style to make life a little easier and didn't think hairdryers and straighteners would be good for it.

    1. Make sure the cap is the right size it should make contact with your scalp - think I lost some of my hair as the first round the cap didn't touch my scalp on top of head.

    2. Take a spray on conditioner with you - they will wet your head then use conditioner before the cap goes on.

    3. Take a hat or scarf with you as you will leave with soaking wet hair.

    The cap is painful for the first ten mins but then the pain goes and is just a little heavy.

    I took Viviscal tablets and used their hair powder to mask thin bits.

    Shampoo with biotin is recommended. Also caffeine shampoo whichever suits.

    I really recommend it as it does work.

    It is not silly to want to keep your hair I found it essential.

    If you need any more help just ask.

    Good luck

    Bev xx

  • Hi Katie, I used the cold cap for the first 3 sessions of chemo and I had it on for nearly seven hours each time , it was excruciating! I did keep my hair which was a huge mop of naturally curly hair but it did thin massively and started to look terrible , I then had a break from chemo to have my op and then went along to my 4 th session thinking should I shouldn't I ?!?! After lots of tears , which I think where cried because of thinking I've put myself through all that before and now I'm gonna loose it if I don't do it , I decided not to as the effects of just having chemo where enough to contend with !!Also my consultant that I had at this point was a different one to the one I started with and when he said his take on it was that the chemo is meant to get to every part of your body and it's not reaching parts up top that it should be and he tapped his finger to his head !! This did make me think , yeah , your right !! Once my hair started falling out and I was bald I actually though why did I bother !! It wasn't so bad after all ! My hair was my crowning glory but it's only hair after all and it does grow back !!

    So ... It's just grown back to a very short hair do, only to be told the shitty disease is back so back on chemo , needless to say not doing cold cap at all and expect to be bald once more ! Ps never did the wig or scarf thing I just embrassed the baldness !!! Hope this helps you xxx good luck

  • Hi Kate

    The chemo combination for OC or PPC is almost always Carboplatin and Taxol and you will definitely lose your hair around the time of the second session. I can only tell you what I did which the majority of the women who replied to you did. When they told me just before I had my first chemo they also told me about the cold cap. I didn't even consider it. The very idea of sitting uncomfortably for hours at a time with a freezing head did not appeal to me in the least. I had a spray tan and my hair shaved just before my second chemo . A few weeks earlier I had my wig fitted and colour decided in the same salon that specialises in dealing with Cancer patients. It was such a good match that when I came out of the salon my brother asked why I hadnt gone ahead with it.

    Having said all that Kate I have read of some women on this site who were happy to wear the cold cap. Hope you get more of these replies if you decide on cold cap . I can only relate my own experience and as I am probably facing more chemo in the very near future I will be doing the same as I did first time round. Good luck with whatever decision you make.


  • I had frontline Carbo Taxol and rather than hang around looking like a manky tabby, my head was shaved and I wore beanies and scarves when I went out. Being bald was't a hardship ... Just one of those things that comes with chemo. However, I shed a tear when my eyelashes and eyebrows fell out. My face looked like a child's drawing ... No definition, just totally round. Take care. Xxx

  • Hi Kate,

    I had radiotherapy and my hair fell out. Not all of it though, just around the back and sides, I still had a mop on top. I was like a monk. Friar Tuck eat your hair out... Or what is left of it :).

    Anyhow, it wasn't too bad. I woke up one morning with hair on my pillow. Not a lot to sneeze at.

    I was told by my docs that I might have to wear a hat or a cap because the sunlight could affect the area but I didn't have to in the end. The sun wasn't much of a bother. It better not be either cos the sun is one of the healthiest things going.

    I think I did have to use a milder shampoo. I can't remember too well as I was only 14 at the time :|.

    As far as I know, everyones hair will fall out due to chemo or radiotherapy.

    Take care,


  • By the way, if you could get some friends to shave their heads that would be a nice gesture to say they are supporting you :).

  • All of the previous advice is good. I am on the carbo/paclitaxol regime and wasn't offered the cold cap. I am told it is only offered if it is likely to work. I have always had long hair and felt defined by it, was surprised how well I have coped with hair loss. Taking charge by sorting a wig out at the recommended supplier who deals with cancer patients all the time, you can try all kinds ofvstyles and colours. Then i got my hair cut a few weeks before chemo in a style to match the wig. When my hair started to fall out, not in clumps but just gradually, I got my hair cut short, couldn't face a number 2 cut. In fact both wig supplier and hairdresser recommended not to. As loss progressed I started wearing my wig when we went out. At home I have a soft turban, or go native! The wig is fab, everyone has commented on my wonderful hairdo. Like one of the writers above, there is no way I would have had the courage to go short, but I actually love the new me.

    Good luck


  • I chose not the have a cold cap. I must be a vain old boot because I decided if it was going to thin or go patchy and not look as it normally does then I'd rather have a wig! I lost all of it coming out really quickly on day 11. So went from long to shaved. Few tears wig on and got on with it. Had my moments-threw it on the bed one day after being incredibly hot. Told it i hated it and left it. Returned later to find the cat sleeping next to it. Obviously liked it more than me . Lol all that said I see lots of ladies every week using the cold cap. The nurse seem to take a lot of care fitting it and cover the patients with a blanket. X. Good luck with your dexcision. Tracey x

  • Hello Kate, I have had my first round of chemo 14 days ago and it was only in the last 5 of those days that my hair started to fall out. It was more distressing than having being diagnosed with cancer. I found that my hair was very sensitive, not my hair of course but my scalp.Having said that the lovely lady that I got my wig off shaved my head because it was the falling out part I found worse. Now that it's all gone I feel so much better, but that is just me. I got a lovely wig that I wore out today for lunch with my mother in law and I wear scarves around the house. Everyone is different. I have never used a cold cap so I can't tell you what that would be like.. Sorry, you will find your own way and that's the best for you. Contact me anytime you like. I may not be much help but I'll try 🙂 Best wishes

  • Just about to start carbo taxol again after fretting about hair loss the first time around I went for the wig option looked fabulous but itched a lot this time around will get the wig for special outings but in house I'm going commando oh the relief, don't think the cold cap is for me but try it out if it doesn't work embrace the chance to try out new looks wishing you better times ahead Ann x

  • It is an emotional time when hair starts to fall out. I cut it short then my husband shaved it for me in the yard one night by moonlight as I cried. I suggest finding someone who specializes in wigs. Go before your hair starts to thin! It's important for her to see you with your real hair and style. She took one look at me and said I have what you need but need to order a different color. When it came in she put it on me, thinned it, trimmed it and I love it. Looks completely natural, I've received so many compliments from friends and family that know my hair has fallen out. You can do this!!!

  • Apologies everyone for the delay in response. Thank you everyone for all of your detailed replies. It means a lot to me to hear it from people who have already gone through it. All of your individual stories / opinion were were so helpful to read. Thank you so much! Kate X

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