Radiation-induced hair loss
Radiation-induced hair loss
Radiation-induced hair loss as a result of accidental cancer exposure or cancer treatment is often extensive and irreversible. However, understanding the mechanism itself can make it easier for people to deal with it. In some cases, there are ways to reduce the damage. It is also helpful to know some of the changes that can be expected if hair loss is stimulated and regrowth.
How does radiation cause hair loss?
Exposure to radiation can damage all cells in the body. It tends to cause the most damage to rapidly dividing cells, so it can be used to treat cancer as cancer cells often divide and grow much faster than other normal, healthy tissues. Unfortunately, hair follicles also contain rapidly dividing cells, so they can be permanently damaged by radiation exposure.
The degree of visible consequences of radiation exposure with respect to the hair will depend on the type of radiation (radiation) to which the person is exposed, as well as the duration of this exposure. Controlled hospital exposure provides predictable results that individuals can discuss with their doctor. Hair loss starts immediately and hair loss can continue for up to two weeks. The scalp becomes sensitive and itching may be felt. Scratching is bad for the skin, but usually does not worsen the condition of hair loss because the follicles on the irritated part of the scalp are already in the atrophy stage.
Hair loss is often an early symptom when radiation exposure occurs accidentally, for example, in a laboratory accident or because someone has been exposed to contamination. If it starts suddenly with hair loss and is accompanied by nausea and weakness, seek medical attention immediately. Doctors may recommend removing any remaining healthy hair, as it is a potential source of radioactivity that can prolong exposure and increase long-term health risks.
Reducing the harmful effects of radiation
In the hospital setting, radiation is carefully controlled to reduce damage to healthy tissues. If there is cancer localized to an area of the body (ie not blood cancer or advanced metastatic cancer), the treatment given will be very direct and will only cause local hair loss. This means that in no case can it affect the hair on the head.
If you need radiotherapy to a part of the scalp, even if it feels like you’re getting a painful burn – then there will be complete hair loss on a small part of the scalp that is directly exposed to radiation. A water conditioner can be used to topically treat the irradiated part – isorica. In such a situation, there is the possibility to hide the bald circles by shaping the rest of the hair or to insert prostheses that will not differ in any way from the natural hair color and therefore completely imperceptible.
If hair starts to regrow in the areas affected by radiation, which is usually due to endangerment of the follicles, always remember that the hair must be very short in order to avoid further pressure on the already damaged follicles and thus prolong their lifespan. and their effectiveness. In such cases, the hair should not be washed more than twice a week and mild shampoos should be used, unless the doctor recommends otherwise.
Hair growth after exposure to radiation
Experience shows that in most people who lose their hair due to radiotherapy, the hair partially regrows within three to six months after the end of treatment. But the new hair may not be the same as before the radiation exposure.
Usually, the first hair that appears after the end of radiotherapy is very soft and delicate, like newborn hair. For some people, this is the only hair they will ever get. In other patients, this soft and delicate hair falls out within a month and leaves its place to normal hair.
Hair after radiation may differ from the hair color before exposure to radiation. This is because damaged follicles can produce fibers of different thicknesses that will have different colors under the influence of light. Just as radiation damages the vascular network, so does the supply of nutrients to the follicle itself. Malnutrition can sometimes cause fine, pale hairs to form in the early stages of recovery, but these often darken over time.
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