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Chemotherapy-induced Alopecia

Chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) is a common side effect experienced by many people undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cells, aiming to destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, these drugs also affect other fast-growing cells in the body, including those in the hair follicles. This disrupts the normal hair growth cycle, leading to hair loss.


  • Chemotherapy drugs: Different chemotherapy drugs vary in their likelihood of causing hair loss. Medications like anthracyclines (e.g., doxorubicin) and taxanes (e.g., paclitaxel) are more likely to cause significant hair loss.
  • Dose and schedule of treatment: Higher doses and more frequent administration of chemotherapy drugs generally increase the risk of hair loss.


  • Hair thinning: This is often the first sign and can progress to more noticeable hair loss.
  • Patchy bald spots: Hair loss may not be uniform and can occur in patches across the scalp.
  • Complete hair loss: In some cases, chemotherapy can lead to complete baldness on the scalp and other hairy areas like eyebrows and eyelashes.
  • Changes in hair texture or color: Regrowing hair may be different in texture (thinner or coarser) or color than before treatment.

Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia. However, some options may help manage it:

  • Scalp cooling: This technique involves wearing a cap that cools the scalp during chemotherapy to reduce blood flow to hair follicles and potentially minimize hair loss.
  • Wigs and hairpieces: These can provide a cosmetic solution for hair loss.
  • Scalp care: Using gentle shampoos and avoiding harsh styling practices can help minimize scalp irritation.

This information is for general knowledge only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are undergoing chemotherapy and are concerned about hair loss, talk to your doctor about potential side effects and supportive measures.

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