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chemo side effect?
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chemo side effect?

I had my first chemo treatment 2 weeks ago with Cytoxin and Taxotere. My hair started coming out 4 days ago. Today the top of my scalp is very sensitive and tender like a burn. Would this be from the chemo?
Thanks for any help,
Sally
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16 Comments
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312701_tn?1193405472
Yep, you are now entering the bald zone.  You will find that not all of your hair will fall out, and it will look very bad.  You will probably find you a razor in about 3 more days and take care of this problem yourself.  Oh, and your mother was right..... you lose quite a bit of heat from your head.  You'll want something on top of your head when it's cold.  However, you may experience hot flashes from the chemo.  

I wore a hat most days so I could take it off when needed.  I shaved about every week or so, just to keep the stubble down.  You won't have leg hair (or at least much), nor will you have pubic hair, eyelashes or eyebrows.  kiss 'em bye bye...this is temporary...just remember that.  All hair will grow back again.

The sensitive and tender is the chemo.  The pubic hair falling out is what was worst for tender, to me.

And the best thing about being bald:  NO BAD HAIR DAYS!!!  Oh, and the cutting down on the time it takes to get ready is a really good bonus, too!

Best of luck on your chemo.  I hope you have an easy time through it.
Lisa
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Thank you Lisa for your input. The tender scalp areas are better today after I put some steroid ointment on them overnight. I have a brand new wig that needs trimming which will be done this Wed. Hope my scalp can take wearing it as I work with children and would hate to scare them if a scarf fell off. Keep your fingers crossed that I can work Tuesday with my own hair. Yes I will probably be shaving what's left as the hair falling out is very messy.
Sally
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216614_tn?1195668672
I had my head shaved 2 weeks after my first chemo (AC)...I did not have the sensitivity issue, but I itched so bad I had a lady move away from me at the grocery store one day.  She must have thought I had head lice.  As soon as I had my head shaved, that went away.  Most of the women I know had their hair shaved  within 2 weeks of their treatment.  But most of us had the adriamycin.   Lhughes is right about your head being cold.  You will probably want to take the wig off at home.  I wore little cotton caps around the house.  More comfy than the wig, and since my wig was synthetic, I didn't want to wear it around the stove.
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326352_tn?1310997895
Kids are fascinated by bald heads.  I taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School while bald.  Most of the time I was wearing a hat (couldn't stand a wig), but I took it off frequently because I would have hot flashes (my dad referred to them as "Power Surges"....we power surged together....drove mom nuts! and COLD!)

I found out that if you aren't concerned with your looks, no one else really is either.  But, if you have a funky looking head, then you might get some stares!   One of our ministers saw me quite a while after it was over and didn't recognize me because I had grown hair.  It was funny.  You get used to things and start realizing that some stuff doesn't matter much.  Being here, matters.

And kids are most forgiving of strange things.

I hope you have a good chemo experience and a pretty head!
Lisa (also lhughes69)
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I too entered the bald zone.  Not the best time of my life.  18 days after my first chemo I got my hair cut short like my husbands so it would not be messy when falling out.  I had also picked my wig out 2 weeks before and had that style so I was ready for when the big day arrived and the first strands fell to my shoulders.  What I was not prepared for was the pain on my scalp, my hair was so sensitive and it was very hard to sleep, so a week late (minus loads of hair that had already fallen out) I went to my very supportive hairdresser and got him to shave my head.  It was not as upsetting as I had thought it would be. It was more upsetting having the hair fall out.  No more sensitive scalp and my wig stuck to my head so much better and I did'nt have to keep worrying was it moving.  At home I used to wear a bandana to give my head some air after the wig, but personally I always wore the wig outside the house, it was just my personal choice, everyone is different, there is no right or wrong, you decide what suits you best.

I have 2 kids, Luke just gone 5 and Conor 2 years 5 months.  It did not phase them one bit when my hair fell out.  I showed them what was happening every step of the way.  They used to "HELP" me brush my wig in the mornings!!!!  They were the first to notice when my hair started to grow back and had great fun rubbing my head to see what it felt like and how long it was.  Apparently I nearly look like Daddy now!  Children more than adults are more adaptable, so just find the right way to tell children what is happening and they will be happy and just get on with life and pay no more attention.  The best compliment I got during my chemo was from my friend Rhona who gave me the compliment without realising it.  She came up one day for lunch and a good auld chat.  She was sitting 2 feet from me and said. "Is'nt it great that you never lost your hair during chemo!".  I looked at her in awe to see if she was taking the mickey, but no, she was deadly serious.  She really thought that was my hair on my head.  Well I have to say that was the best lunch I had this past year!!

So whatever you decide, just be comfortable with yourself.  Wig, hat, scarf, bandana or bald, each to their own.  For me it was a wig and bandana and my wig was very comfortable all the time.  Good luck.
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Thanks for all the input. I work in a pediatric clinic so those were the kids I was concerned about not my grandchildren. I may try all of the head covers before it's over.
Sally
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I start chemo tomorrow...i was told NOT to shave my head, but to crop it as close as possible...

shaving leads to sensitivity and itchiness....so i guess im going to go the ''3 yr old with a pair of scisssors route''..and hack at my own hair.....

does anyone know how soon after chemo starts that the hair starts falling out??
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216614_tn?1195668672
when I had my hair shaved, it was where I got my wig.  The hair stylist shaved it with clippers so I had maybe a half inch of hair all over....

I had AC and was told between day 14 and 17.  And that was right on.  I had my head done and my wig styled on day 12.
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I did A/C and Abraxane.  I shaved my head both times with a razor (new ones each time) and shaving cream.  A guy at our church shaved his head and gave me pointers on how to keep the scalp healthy.  I only had one episode of itchiness and some ingrown hairs due to my own stupidity (lotion).  That lasted about 3 weeks and I was miserable.  Dandruff shampoo was the cure for that.

I didn't know about the "not shaving" thing.  But I did clipper my hair down to about .25 of an inch before shaving.  I had one patch in the center of my head that was always stubbly.

It grows back around week 6 after your last chemo.  The first hair is real soft and not very good for styling.  I was called a chia-pet sometime after that and proceeded to get my first haircut in a LONG time.

Good luck to ya!
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Avatar_f_tn
Well I bit the bullet and got my hairdresser to shave my head. It is less than a quarter of an inch. She said my scalp is dry and to put either conditioner or lotion on it. Ihughes69, what was the problem with the lotion?? Anyway, I don't have to deal with the hair falling out everywhere any more. I wore my wig to work after getting the neckline trimmed some, and it was a big hit..or maybe they were just being kind. I do like it though. Tonight I have on a cotton bandana since it turned cold where I live. I'm learning.
Sally
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My hair did not fall out but instead glued together like a birds nest and I had the beauty shop cut it all off as close to my head as I could.  The burning will be helped by hydrocortizone with aloe cream - sold at all stores.  Ask your doctor if you can drink aloe  juice this will stop all the burning  - skin, tears, urine etc. I mixed it in grape juice and forced myself to drink at least two ounces every two hours.  I also mixed in a capful of chlorophyll in every quart of juice which kept my RBC count up - no anemia and no menstrual changes. Always check with your doctor first but mine did not care. One thing I always did was to be positive on my day of chemo. If I was having a bad day I did not take the treatment that day but took it the next. Remember you are the patient and only you know how you feel.  I will keep you in my thoughts!!
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your comments on shaving my head. Can you tell me why the lotion caused the ingrown hair problem? My hairdressers suggested either lotion or conditioner for my dry scalp. After reading your post, I used the Head and Shoulders Dry Scalp.
Thanks for any help.
Sally
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325698_tn?1216332354
well my hair ended up falling out day 13 after first cycle.....i can smile and now say that im a bad chia pet myself.....i decided to keep what hair i have....my stepdaughter loves to rub it....it is a lovely head massage.....

i use regular shampoo and conditioner on it.  or i should say whats left of it....so far no dry scalp issues.....

i do have these weird little red bumps on my head though too...but they are popping up everywhere (random) ...im sure its the chemo and not hair folicles though....
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326352_tn?1310997895
I think I had used a general body lotion (just something I happened to have), not something good for tender skin right after I shaved and I developed a crop of ingrown hairs and acne bumps almost immediately.  It was awful.  If I remember, my scalp had gotten a bit dry, so I thought, hey, put a little lotion up there.  Basically I screwed up and didn't watch what kind of lotion I was putting on my head.  I wish I could remember which lotion it was, sorry guys.  I think I tossed it out the next day.  Wasn't thinking at all about just having shaved my head.

The head and shoulders helped clear up the bumps, thankfully.  

And thankfully those days are now behind me (last treatment was 6/6/06).  I just got my hair permed and blonded again.  It's shoulder length (or almost).  My husband commented that I'm starting to look like my old self.  He loves long hair, so I'm growing it back out for him and me.

Ya'll have a Merry Christmas!  And for those who are still in the process....may your heads be beautiful and your chemo easy on the system.  May you find yourself enjoying the season with much hope and love in your hearts and next year be a healthy, happy, non-cancerous year for us all!

Merry Christmas!
Lisa
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Avatar_n_tn
My head was also very tender and sensitive from the chemo, but it went away.  My hair started coming out on day 16.  When that happend I decided to shave it off myself.  I saw myself in the mirror and started crying, then my husband came up behind me, took the clippers, and gently took over for me.  He kept up the conversation while he continued shaving my head.  When he was done he looked and me and told me I was beautiful.  "!  What a guy.

This is an interesting journey for all of us and we have been blessed.  The cancer was found and either was or is being treated.  Yes, we are blessed.  Merry Christmas to all of you!  

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Avatar_f_tn
At this time last year it had been 4 months since my last chemo treatment and I was just getting my nerve up to be seen wigless and scarfless. My hair was about 5/8 inch long, and if I had a younger face I'd have kept that 'kicky' style permanently.  I was relieved it had grown back the same color (red, never dyed it) and texture I'd had my whole life,  though with a bit more gray in it than before. I described myself "salt and paprika"!   (An insensitive employee at the wig store had told me a couple of weeks before starting chemo, that "at your age (55) your hair will probably come back totally gray" though I had very little gray yet.  I'm not a vain person, but being scared of the impending chemo and baldness, I felt her comment was very insensitive and unnecessary).

Anyway, I remember the painfully sore scalp as my hair began to fall out...adding insult to injury!...and I hadn't seen much in the literature about that side effect.  Hair had been coming out in my brush for a week, but once the traumatic "great shedding" began in the shower almost three weeks after my first chemo, a wonderful neighbor offered to come over with her husband's clippers. I'd been warned NOT to use a razor blade to shave my head since the slightest cut might leave me open to infection. Being on chemo you are so much more susceptible to infection. Please avoid razors if you have started chemo.

We just trimmed it to about 1/2 inch, exposing many bald areas I already had. Later I was surprised that at no point did every hair fall out, so I always had some fine baby hair scattered around my scalp. Somehow I could never get myself to shave off ALL the leftover hair. Being bald was depressing, but it was a reminder that the chemo was WORKING so I comforted myself with that thought. I  too was surprised how many people honestly thought my wig was really my hair!  I never hid the fact that I was bald and on chemo, but I was amazed how realistic a good wig can be. Remember that your insurance company should cover some, or all, of the cost of a wig. You'll need an Rx for the wig from your oncologist.

Lastly, I was plagued by a lot of itching and soreness during the re-growth period. I found NOTHING in any of the books or online about this problem. My doctors had never heard another woman complain of this and were no help. I used all kinds of gentle shampoos, both organic and medicated, but it seemed like nothing helped. There was no redness or scaling or dandruff...just this awful itching and soreness. I was beside myself for months until it finally just went away, probably when  my hair was about 1 1/2 inches long. Has anyone else had that problem?????

Diana
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