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Caring For Your Appearance

Looking and feeling your best
Many cancer patients are concerned about how their diagnosis will affect how they look, as changes in the skin and hair are common. Paying attention to your appearance can help you feel better when you’re living with cancer. There’s no doubt it can be more difficult to feel good about how you look when you don’t feel well, but even the smallest steps can help you feel more confident and in control.

The basics
For starters, try to maintain your regular grooming habits, such as putting on makeup, styling your hair, and shaving. Extra pampering in the form of getting a manicure, pedicure, or blow-out can go a long way as well. (Just be sure to get your doctor’s approval before indulging in any spa treatments.) When applying makeup, be sure to wash your hands before starting and replace any eyeliners or mascaras monthly.
Hair loss and cancer treatment
Chemotherapy is the cancer treatment most associated with hair loss, simply because these drugs affect the hair follicles, and potentially cause hair to fall out. Some drugs can cause hair thinning or hair loss only on the scalp, while others can affect the entire body, including the eyebrows and eyelashes. However, not every chemotherapy patient loses their hair. Radiation therapy to the head can cause hair loss as well, depending on the dose of radiation.1

If hair loss is going to occur, it usually begins within 1 to 3 weeks after the first treatment and becomes more noticeable within 1 to 2 months.1 In the meantime, your scalp may feel very sensitive to washing, combing, or brushing as well—but remember, your hair will grow back.
More about treatment-related hair loss
Treatment-related hair loss is temporary but being prepared for this potential side effect can make it easier to deal with. Your scalp may feel itchy or sensitive, so be gentle when washing and brushing your hair. Avoiding excess brushing or tension (in the form of braids, ponytails and heat styling)—and sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase may help reduce hair loss. Your eyelashes and eyebrows may also be affected, so be gentle especially when washing your face or removing makeup. When new hair begins to grow back, avoid chemical processing like dyes, highlights, and straightening treatments for the first few months. And keep in mind that when hair grows back, it may be curlier or straighter, thicker or finer—or even a different color. These changes are usually short-lived, and with time your hair will likely get back to the way it was before cancer treatment.


La Roche-Posay created this article with materials sourced from the American Cancer Society, a trusted leader in cancer-related information and resources. La Roche-Posay is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society to provide cancer support resources and funding to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Program.
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