Bald and beautiful: cancer hair-loss tips

September 02, 2015 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Imagine looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at you. Losing your hair during cancer treatment is a common, but often traumatic, side effect of cancer treatment. For cancer patients, it’s not just hair they are losing, but part of their identity and confidence.

Wigs are a popular way for patients to start looking like themselves again. Edward-Elmhurst Health offers two wig boutiques sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Every cancer patient — man, woman or child — is eligible to receive a free wig at no charge. Here are some tips to consider when choosing your perfect wig:

  • If you still have your natural hair and think you may want a wig in the future, visit the wig boutique at Edward or Elmhurst Cancer Centers early and we can find a wig that best matches your current hair color and texture.
  • Have fun with it. Have you always wanted to be a red head, or to see how you look with a pixi cut or sleek bob? Try on multiple styles and experiment with colors.
  • Consider going a shade or two lighter than your natural color to brighten your face.
  • Make it a social event. Bring a close friend or family member for a second opinion. But always choose the wig that you like the best.

Once you find that perfect wig, your local hair stylist or barber can help style your wig when it first arrives and give you tips on how to style it yourself at home. When you visit the wig boutiques at Edward-Elmhurst, your wig specialist will measure your head to find the best fit for you.

Keep in mind; wigs aren’t your only option. Scarves and kerchiefs are a great way to get a sleek, artistic look. With a variety of colors and patterns to choose from, you can have one to match every outfit. Learn how to wear and tie scarves and kerchiefs. You can obtain one free scarf or head wrap through Good Wishes, a company committed to providing fashionable wraps to women and children experiencing hair loss as a result of illness, injury or treatment.

Hats or turbans are another fashion forward option. When selecting a hat, opt for one with a brim to keep the sun off your face and neck. For turbans, select a fabric that is soft and fits snuggly around your head.

No matter what head covering you choose, taking care of the skin on your newly exposed head is the most important thing you can do to look and feel better. When you lose your hair, you may develop dry, itchy scalp, be at higher risk for sunburn, or lose more body heat and feel cold more frequently.

Follow these four tips to protect your skin throughout treatment:

  1. Moisturize your scalp every day with non-scented lotion.
  2. Consider wearing a padded hat/wig liner if you have sensitive skin, or to help prevent your wig or hat from rubbing too much on your bare skin.
  3. Wear a soft turban or close-fitting hat while you sleep to keep body heat from escaping.
  4. Always put sunscreen on your face, neck, ears and head, even if you are wearing a wig or hat.

Edward-Elmhurst has partnered with the American Cancer Society to provide the free Look Good Feel Better program for women dealing with hair loss and skin changes from chemotherapy and radiation. Participants learn specific techniques to look and feel better while undergoing treatment. Each participant will take home a makeup package valued at $200. For more information about the Look Good Feel Better Program, call 331-221-CARE.

To reach the American Cancer Society wig boutiques at Edward-Elmhurst Health call us at:

Edward Hospital Cancer Centers: 630-527-3788
The Nancy W. Knowles Cancer Center at Elmhurst: 331-221-5900

Learn more about oncology services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

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