Skip to main content

Hair loss during Cancer Treatment

This leaflet provides information for people who may lose their hair as a result of their cancer treatment.  The leaflet explains how to care for your hair during your treatment and how chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapies may affect your hair.  It gives information about headwear options such as scarves, turbans and hats.  It also mentions wigs and tells you how to choose, purchase and care for your wig.  Websites for further information and local wig suppliers are listed in the back of the leaflet.  

Will my treatment cause hair loss?

Some chemotherapy treatments and radiotherapy to the scalp area will cause hair loss.  This may vary from hair thinning to complete hair loss.  Your doctor, nurse or radiographer will advise you if your treatment is likely to cause hair loss.

Looking after your hair

Even if your hair does not fall out, treatment can make it dry and brittle.  There are some simple steps you can take to help look after your hair:

  • Use a mild shampoo (not baby shampoo)
  • Use lukewarm not hot water to wash your hair
  • Try not to wash your hair too often
  • Pat your hair dry gently with a soft towel
  • Be gentle when combing or brushing your hair
  • Avoid hot hairdryers, heated rollers and hair tongs
  • Avoid using chemicals such as perms or colours
  • Avoid tying your hair back tightly, use soft hair bobbles 

Preparing for hair loss

If you have been told you may lose your hair, you may find it helpful to have your hair cut short before your treatment starts.  This will reduce the weight of hair pulling on your scalp so it may minimise hair loss.  

Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapies affect your hair in different ways:  

Hair loss with chemotherapy

You may experience hair thinning or complete hair loss. Occasionally the treatments may also affect eyebrows, eyelashes, nasal hair, beard, moustache and body hair.  We will discuss with you what hair loss is usual with your treatment.  However, the amount of hair loss varies for each person. 

Scalp cooling can be used for some chemotherapy treatments to prevent or minimise hair loss.  If scalp cooling can be used with your treatment we will discuss this with you.  We also have a leaflet that tells you more about scalp cooling. 

Hair loss usually starts 2 – 4 weeks after your first treatment.  Occasionally it may be sooner, and for some people it will be later.  Your hair will grow back after you have finished treatment. You may even notice some new growth during your treatment.  Hair may grow back a slightly different colour and texture.  

You should minimise exposure to the sun, and wear a hat and sunscreen if you go out in the sun.  Use a mild moisturiser if your head becomes dry or tender.

Hair loss with radiotherapy

You will only lose hair in the area being treated.  For example if you have treatment to your breast or chest you may lose some underarm or chest hair; if your head is being treated you will only lose hair on your head.  The amount of hair loss depends on the strength of treatment. 

Hair loss usually starts after 2 -3 weeks of treatment.  Sometimes hair loss can be permanent, this will depend of the strength of the treatment.  Your doctor, nurse or radiographer will discuss this with you.

If your hair does grow back it can take 2 - 3 months, and the re-growth may be patchy.  Your hair may not be as thick as it was before your treatment. 

You should not expose the treated area to the sun during your treatment and for a year afterwards.  Please wear a hat and use SPF 30 sunscreen on the treated area.

Hair loss with other cancer treatment

Some other cancer treatments such as hormones may cause hair thinning, or make your hair dry and brittle.  Your hair should start to thicken within a few weeks of finishing treatment. 

How will my hair fall out?

You will notice an increase in hair loss when you brush or wash your hair.  You will also notice hair on your pillow.  If you have been told to expect complete hair loss, once this process has started the hair loss usually occurs quickly over a few days to weeks.

Will losing my hair be painful?

Some patients having chemotherapy experience tingling of the scalp or discomfort when the hair starts to fall out.  Mild pain killers can help (whatever you normally take for a headache).

However with radiotherapy, tingling, discomfort and reddening of the scalp could be a side effect of treatment.

Hair loss and body image

Losing your hair can change how you think and feel about yourself (body image), and may affect your self-confidence.  You can speak to your doctor, nurse or radiographers if this has affected you. Macmillan and Breast Cancer Care produce leaflets that you may find helpful.  These are available from the Patient Information Centre or see page 8 for their website details and helpline numbers. 

Head coverings

If you want to cover your head, there are lots of options available.  Scarves, turbans and hats come in a variety of styles and colours and are widely available from department stores.   

 

Eyebrows and eyelashes

Losing your eyebrows and eyelashes can change your appearance.  You can use an eyebrow pencil to redraw your eyebrows.  Beauty counters in department stores can show you how to do this.  Some cosmetic salons tattoo new eyebrows.  You can also buy false eyebrows and false eyelashes.

The Maggie’s Centre run the Look Good Feel Better sessions which give expert advice on make up and skin care.  They are free and you will receive a gift bag of products.  This can boost your morale as well as allowing you to spend an enjoyable afternoon with other women who have either had or are having treatment.  Please contact 029 2240 8024 for more information or to book a place.

Wigs

You may want to wear a wig or hairpiece.  Wigs are available in many different styles and colours.  

We usually talk about wigs during your out-patient appointment when first discussing your treatment. You will be given a leaflet with wig suppliers on page 9 of the leaflet. You can choose any wig supplier from the list.

Velindre Cancer Centre can, if needed, subsidise the cost of your wig up to £100.00.  This covers the cost of most wigs.  If the wig you choose costs more than £100 you will need to pay the difference.  If you would like a wig referral request form please contact Leigh Porter on 029 2019 6132, this telephone has an answerphone so if unavailable, please leave a message.

How do I choose a wig?

Your wig supplier will show you a catalogue of styles and colours to help you choose.  You can try them on to find the one that you feel most comfortable and happy with.

Your wig supplier will give you specific advice on caring for your wig.  It can be cut and styled to your personal requirements.  Some wig suppliers may charge for this.  Or your usual hairdresser should be able to do this for you.

When your hair grows back

Your hair will grow back at the same rate as normal hair growth, which is about half an inch per month. It will be very fine at first but will become thicker.  Your scalp may become scaly as your hair grows back.  When it is very short you can use aqueous cream to wash your hair.  It produces lather and will moisturise your scalp at the same time.  As your hair becomes longer you should use a very mild shampoo for frequent use.  These do not contain chemicals that dry the scalp and hair.

You should avoid perms, colouring and chemical straightening for at least 3 months after treatment. After this time your hairdresser will be able to assess the condition of your hair and advise you further.

Websites and helplines
Breast Cancer Care - www.breastcancercare.org.uk
0808 800 6000

Look Good … Feel Better - www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk 

Macmillan - www.macmillan.org.uk
0808 808 0000

Tenovus - 0808 808 1010

Macmillan freephone Helpline - 0808 808 0000

Trevor Sorbie’s my new hair - www.mynewhair.org 

Wigbank - www.wigbank.com 
07840 937 574 Dawn 

You can recycle your wig when you no longer need it by donating it to Wig Bank or Velindre Cancer Centre.  We sell donated wigs with proceeds benefitting the Velindre Cancer Centre charity.

Please note: The wig referral can only be used with the following suppliers. Please see information below on The NHS Wales Contract and contacts for Suppliers.  Please telephone the suppliers of your choice to make an appointment

NHS Wales Contract for the Provision and Fitting of Wigs

Patient Information Booklet

 

NHS Wales contract reference CLI-OJEU-52728

 

 

NHS Wales are committed to providing wigs for those patients receiving treatment who have experienced, or will shortly experience, temporary, long-term or permanent hair loss.  This booklet provides information about contracted wig providers (in this booklet referred to as “salons”).  Patients are able to attend the contracted salon of their choice.  Whereas every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this booklet, patients are asked to check directly with the contracted salons regarding opening hours, parking and wig range as this may be subject to change.  Salon premises differ in terms of accessibility.  Please check your accessibility requirements with the salon in advance of your visit. This information booklet is available in Welsh and English.

 

What does the NHS Wales financial contribution cover?

The NHS Wales financial contribution (referred to in this booklet as voucher or purchase order) covers the provision and fitting/styling of a range of wigs or “partials” in full.  The voucher or purchase order does not cover the provision of hair loss headwear or hair systems.  The range of wigs offered within the voucher or purchase order may differ from one salon to another.  It is therefore recommended that you contact the salons directly to determine if their wig range best fits with your requirements/preference.  All contracted salons offer wig styles for persons of colour.  All salons are committed to providing an equitable, non-discriminatory service to NHS Wales patients.  All Health Boards/Trusts offer one wig to oncology/haematology patients per course of treatment with dermatology patients receiving two wigs per year (for dermatology patients, the NHS Wales financial contribution can be combined for the purchase of a single higher quality wig or used separately).

 

How do I obtain my Wig

The clinic providing your treatment will confirm the financial value you are entitled to in respect of obtaining your wig.  You can then look for your preferred wig supplier from the list of contracted salons.  You will need to contact the salon directly to make an appointment for your wig consultation.  When you arrive at the salon, you will need to advise them of the value of your purchase order or voucher amount and which Health Board/Trust and clinic is providing your care in order that they invoice NHS Wales correctly for the supply of the wig.  The salons are required to advise you of the wig ranges you are able to obtain in full within the NHS Wales purchase order or voucher amount prior to discussing any higher priced wigs for which you may financially contribute should you so wish.

You may be required to hand in a paper voucher to the salon or you may be provided with a purchase order number which you then advise the salon (your Clinic will confirm their process).  Your voucher or purchase order reference can only be used once so please do not provide this information until you have decided which salon will be supplying your wig.  The salon will invoice NHS Wales at voucher or purchase order price.  If you decide to purchase a higher specification wig, then any additional cost would need to be met by you and payable at the time of your wig consultation/fitting.

 

Can I claim the VAT back on my wig purchase?

If you are making a personal contribution towards your wig, you can claim the VAT back on this purchase (currently at 20%) if you have alopecia, are receiving chemotherapy, chronically sick or have a disabling condition.  Patients should consult the HMRC website and ensure they take the completed form with them to their wig consultation appointment.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reliefs-from-vat-for-disabled-and-older-people-notice-7017   

 

Your Wig Consultation & Wig Fit

The contracted salons are experienced in the provision and fitting of wigs and have undertaken a detailed application process in order to be awarded on to the contract.  They will take time to listen to what you want and will make recommendations with regards to the best wig type and style.  You may want to consider taking in a photograph of your hair as the salon will do their best to match your hair style and colour or  you may opt for something totally different.  Please ensure you speak to your wig fitter so that they are clear on the wig style you want. The majority of salons hold a wide range of wigs in stock and will fit your wig during your consultation however if your preferred wig type/style is not held in stock, you may be asked to return to the salon at a later date for your wig to be fitted/cut/styled.   You will be provided with information relating to the care of your wig.

 

Patient Feedback (Concerns & Complaints)

Feedback from your experience of being fitted with a wig is really important to NHS Wales as it will help us understand how to improve our service.  If you are unhappy with the treatment or care you are receiving relating to your wig provision and/or fitting, we would encourage you to raise your concerns as soon as possible. Please contact either your clinic directly or alternatively, please contact a member of the Concerns Department and they will be happy to discuss your concerns with you and pass them on to the relevant department. Also, we would appreciate any positive feedback if you were pleased with your treatment or care. Contact details are:-

ANEURIN BEVAN :- Complaints & Concern Team

Telephone: 01633431666

Email: puttingthingsright.ABHB@wales.nhs.uk

Online form:- https://abuhb.nhs.wales/about-us/complaints-concerns/

 

 

BETSI CADWALADR : Concerns Team

Telephone: 01294 384194

Email: ConcernsTeam.bcu@wales.nhs.uk

 

 

 

CARDIFF & VALE : Concerns Team

Telephone: 02921836318

Email: concerns@wales.nhs.uk

 

CWM TAFF : Concerns Team:-

Telephone01443 744915
Email: CTHB_Concerns@wales.nhs.uk

 

HYWEL DDA : Patient Support Service:-

Telephone: 0300 0200159

Email: HDHB.Patientsupportservices@wales.nhs.uk

 

SWANSEA BAY : Patient Feedback Team:-

Telephone: 01639 683363/683316

Text: 07903594520

Email: SBU.Complaints@wales.nhs.uk

 

VELINDRE : Concerns Team:-

Telephone: 02920 196 161

Email: handlingconcernsvelindre@wales.nhs.uk

 

 

 

Contracted Salons

Please see information below in respect of the contracted salons.  There is also a map showing the salon locations.

 

 

Aderans Trenco (The Wiggins) Tel: 0151 7335826. Address: 119 Penny Lane, Liverpool L18 1DF.Website: https://trenco.co.uk. Parking: Park on Penny Lane or on the residential streets nearby. Please discuss specific accessibility requirements with salon.  Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care. Online shop via website.  social media: https://www.facebook.com/trendcowigs. https://instagram.com/trendcowigs/ Twitter @TrendcoWigs

Browns (More hair now) Tel: 01792 894476. Address: Rebecca Lee Salon 65 Glebe Road Loughor Swansea SA4 6QD. Website: www.morehairnow.com. opening times please check with salon. Parking: limited spaces directly outside salon. Please discuss specific accessibility requirements with salon. Provide patient information on wig care. Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Social media: https://www.instagram.combrownswigsofficail/?hl=en

Daxbourne (Salon Wills) Tel: 02920 224475. Address: Salon Wills 11-13 Castle Arcade Cardiff CF10 2BY. Website: www.naturalimagewigs.co.uk. Please check with salon for opening hours.  shop on line via website. social media: HOTHAIR. https://www.facebook.com/hothairUK. https://www.instagram.com/hothair_online/naturalimage. Parking: use public car parks in the vicinity (City Centre). Please discuss specific accessibility requirements with salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent.  Provide patient information on wig care.

Hair and More. Tel: 01792 467804, Address: 10/11 High Street Swansea SA1 1LE. No website. On street parking limited to 1 hour.  Public car parks in vicinity. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care. Please discuss specific accessibility requirements with salon. 

Hair Clinical LTD. Tel: 01437 764144. Address: Unit 8&9 Haverfordwest Business Centre, Merlins Court, Haverfordwest Pembrokshire SA61 1SB. Website: www.hairclinical.co.uk online shop via website. social media: https://www.facebook.com/hairclinicalpemrokeshire. https://www.instagram.com/hairclinical.  parking: Parking outside premises reserved for hair clinical customers.  Please discuss specific accessibility requirements with salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent.

Inspirations Ltd. Tel: 01656 859528. Address: 6A Pen-y-bont Road, Pencoed, Bridgend CF35 5RA. Website: https://www.inspirationsbridgend.co.uk. Opening hours please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. Parking: 45 mins free parking opposite salon.  Free parking within short distance.  Limited parking behind salon.  Social media, Facebook and Instagram links via website. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Michila Harris Wigs. Tel: 07401 663581. Address: 9A Well Street, Porthcawl, Bridgend CF36 3BE. Website: michilaharriswigs.co.uk. Opening hours, please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. online shop: yes via website. Facebook, ml harris hairconsultant. parking: Public car parks close to salon, drop off outside. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Morgan's Hair Loss Solutions Cardiff. Tel: 02921 321450.  Address: 23-25 Morgan Arcade Cardiff CF10 1AF. Website: https://www.morganshairand beauty.co.uk opening hours: please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. online shop: yes via website. Social media, please see website links. parking: Use public care parks in the vicinity (City Centre). Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Morgan's Hair and Beauty. Tel: 01244 637360. Address: 29-31 Lower Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1RS. Website: https://www.morganshairand beauty.co.uk opening hours: please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. online shop: yes via website. Social media, please see website links. parking: Use public care parks in the vicinity . Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Morgan's Hair and Beauty. Tel: 01745 798747. Address: 105-107 High Street Prestatyn LL19 9AP. Website: https://www.morganshairand beauty.co.uk opening hours: please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. online shop: yes via website. Social media, please see website links. parking: Use public care parks in the vicinity . Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Morgan's Hair and Beauty. Tel: 01745 798747. Address: Code Cosmetics Ltd, 6 Clonmel Street, Llnadudno LL30 2LE. Website: https://www.morganshairand beauty.co.uk opening hours: please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. online shop: yes via website. Social media, please see website links. parking: Use public care parks in the vicinity . Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Natural look Wigs. Tel: 01792 582129 Address: Suite 1A 29 Ystrad Road, Fforestfach Swansea SA5 4LH. Website: www.Naturallookwigs.co.uk Online shop, no. Parking: parking available at premises. Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Papa Salon (Constantinou & Sons). Tel: 02920 461191. Address: 99 Crws Road Cathays Cardiff CF24 4NF. Online shop, no. Social media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonconstantinouhairsalon. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/simonconstantinouhairsalon. twitter: https://twitter.com/s_constantinou.  Parking: some off road parking.  parking on main road limited to 1 hour. Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Peruke Ltd. Tel: 01291 672749 or mobile 07768 848926. Address: Holly House, Llancayo Court, Usk NP15 1HY. Website: www.peruke.co.uk opening hours: please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. online shop, yes via website. social media, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, links via website. parking: designated parking in front of salon. Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Phoenix Hair and Make-Up. Tel: 01745 827676. Address: Brymbo House, Chapel Street, Abegele LL22 7AW. Website: www.phoenixhairand makeup.co.uk. No online shop. parking: public car parks short distance away. Social media: https://www.facebook.com/phoenixhairand makeup. www.instagram.com/phoenixhairand makeup.  Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

Scarlett Jack Hairitage. Tel:02922 338466. Address: Font-y-Gary Leisure park, Fontygary Road Rhoose CF62 3ZT. Website: www.scarletjackhairitage.co.uk. opening hours: please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. Online shop via website. social media: https://instagram.com/scarlettjackhairitage?igshid=mlzYWVINDQ5Yg==Parking: parking at the premises. Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

The Wig and Beauty Company. Tel: 07956 967260. Address: Commercial House commercial Street, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood NP12 2JY. Website: www.thewigandbeautycomapny.co.uk. Opening hours. please check website, social media or contact the salon directly. no on line shop. social media: Facebook and Instagram. Parking: Parking at the rear of the salon. Please discuss specific requirements with the salon. Professional membership: Member of the hairdressing and beauty suppliers association or equivalent. Provide patient information on wig care.

 

This leaflet was written by health professionals.  It has been approved by doctors, nurses and patients.  It is reviewed and updated every 2 years.