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Soooo.....Dumb question number one....HAIR

CindyGSD's picture
Posts: 191
Joined: Aug 2011

I've been encouraged to ask questions. even dumb ones, so here we go.

I am currently about 16 days past my first round of chemo and my hair is falling out. It seems that most women shave their head when they start losing their hair but I am being bullheaded about it and it has nothing to do with being able to create hair art on my shower wall (I have pictures ;o)).

My question is to those who did not shave their head. How long did it take to fall out? Does it start falling out in bigger and bigger clumps? I've definitely noticed some thinning, but so far no one else would be able to see it. I purchased a wig but I really don't have any hats or scarves yet so I'd like to hang onto it for a while longer.

What can I expect or is this one of those things that is different for everyone?


PS - I've just started reading all the topics in this group going back to the beginning and working my way forward and I've made it to page 26. I strongly encourage all newcomers to do this....so much information, so many personal stories, so much hope. Thank you all for sharing.

Posts: 275
Joined: Jun 2011

Cindy, I was one who chose to just have my hair cut really short about two weeks after I started chemo. It was about two more weeks later that it was gone. A friend sent me some terrycloth caps that I wore at night --- because I did not want hair on my pillow. Just for practical reasons, really.

Some women I know just wore baseball-type caps and never went the scarf/wig route. I rarely wore baseball caps because the bills bother me, so I mostly wore scarves or knit caps. I had a wig that looked good, but I hate the feel of something tight on my head. I think I only wore it four times.

By the way, there are NO dumb questions.


norma2's picture
Posts: 486
Joined: Aug 2009

Like JoAnn I say there are no dumb questions. I remember wanting to hang onto my hair. In the back of my mind I thought it would not fall out. I was wrong. It came out by the handfull and I developed a sick kind of pleasure in pulling it out in clumps. Weird. Eventually, I had it shaved and them had my head shaved smooth. If felt sooooo much better.

As for the wigs, I wore baseball caps mostly. Bought a very expensive wig and wasted my money. Only wore it a few times. Could never master the whole scarf thing. Scarf kept slipping all around my bald head. When I finally got used to being bald, my hair grew out. My picture is when it had grown out and was curly. Now it is straight again.

Many of us have been there, my dear. You are not alone in this walk.

Ro10's picture
Posts: 1579
Joined: Jan 2009

Feel free to ask whatever you want. I did not shave my head either time I have lost all my hair. My first round of chemo, my hair started falling out 12 days after my first chemo. It was all gone by the time I had my second chemo. When it started falling out, I wore a cap to contain the hair from falling all over. At night I wore a cap so I did not wake up with hair in my face and mouth. I wore baseball caps, but I like the "newsboy" type caps better. They are a little dressier and not as tight as baseball caps.

My second round of chemo after recurrence my hair fell out about the same time. I still wore a cap when it started falling out, but I would comb my hair every couple hours. That way I did not have so much hair falling out.

Some people did not wear caps and just went bald. I was never able to do that out in public. I do have a wig that I wear to church and special occassions.

If your head is itching from the hair coming out, I found that rubbing my head with baby oil would help the itching. I read that sleeping on a silk pillow case helps if your head is tender. I bought some silk pillow cases, but did really have a tender head.

Good luck with you chemo treatments. Feel free to post any other concerns or questions you may have. By the way I love your picture of your dog. I love German Shepherds. In peace and caring.

Rewriter's picture
Posts: 497
Joined: Dec 2009


Before I started chemo, I had been told that my hair would likely fall out sometime between my first and second treatments. I had always wanted to see what I would look like with really short hair; so before it started falling out, I cut all but 1/4 inch of it. This may not be the right approach for everyone, but having such a small amount of hair made the hair-loss experience much less upsetting for me. When I did begin to lose my hair, I watched the last bit of it go down the drain by the third shampoo.

Although I did look at wigs, I opted instead to wear newsboy caps in all different patterns and colors. They were fun to wear, cool and comfortable (I began chemo in June '08), and fit my style better than a wig.

Ro pointed out something that it's good to know in advance: Your scalp might be tender, and using soothing lotions on it as well as sleeping on soft material can help keep you comfortable.

I hope that you will ask questions and come here for support whenever you feel that you need us.


upsofloating's picture
Posts: 473
Joined: Dec 2009

My hair was fairly long and I frequently wore it up in clip. About the time of my second chemo it was falling out but not in clumps. My hair never completely fell out but after about three months it was thin enough and summer had arrived so I had my husband shave it off. I had wig that was too hot and I rarely wore it., usually just hats. I was never very adept at the scarves although many seem to have a knack for them. As soon as I had a bit fuzz I just went without anything but dangly earrings. I think the eyebrow /eyelash loss was worse than the head hair loss. Eyeliner was a must! The body hair loss was a delight.
All questions welcomed!

Rewriter's picture
Posts: 497
Joined: Dec 2009

Makeup helps a lot once you lose your eyelashes and eyebrows. Brown or black pencil can create brows that looked almost real, and mascara can make thin lashes look much thicker. As for the loss of body hair, I wasn't complaining.

Posts: 66
Joined: Dec 2010

I couldn't face having my hair shaved off so had it cut really short between first and second carbo/taxol treatments and emerged from hairdressers wearing wig. Hair fell out in one week between second and third treatments. I bought two identical wigs very similar to my own hair and alternate them - one was NHS-subsidised, the other full price. They are acrylic and very easy to take care of and I've (to my surprise) had loads of compliments about my 'hair'. I am still wearing them though have just about got enough hair to feel confident going out in a hat (so I am adding to my hat collection). For bedtime, I had a couple of soft 'sleep hats' bought online. Make-up, earrings, scarves can all enhance the look....btw, just had legs waxed for first time couple of weeks ago (it all comes back - I was without eyelashes for a very short time). Considering adopting short hair as it will take ages for it to get back to its original length,
There are no dumb questions - ask away!
Good luck

Posts: 88
Joined: Dec 2010

I also started losing hair after the first chemo, but had it cut really short before so it would be easier. That was a tip from my daughter who is an oncology nurse. And for me this worked well. I also purchased a wig, but never wore it. It felt too confining. I used baseball caps, knit caps, and pretty pre-tied scarves I purchased over the Internet. I never used any cosmetics, even though I lost all eyelashes (that was the worst for me) and most of my eyebrows. Losing the hair on the rest of my body was a blessing! It is taking me a very long time to re-grow hair on my head and eyelashes, but on the rest of my body it came back with a vengeance! Of course! One tip, I did take a couple of airline flights while still wearing pre-tied scarves and the security people always asked to "pat down" my head. I always laughed it off, and told them I would be happy to remove the scarf but it might "freak out" some passengers. They just did a light pat down. It was never a problem but was interesting the first leg of the first flight as it was a surprise.

lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

First I want to thank you for suggesting that newcomers here read the OLD posts. When we didn't have our own Uterine Cancer discussion board (2008) those of us with uterine cancer all posted on one thread under the 'Gynecologic Cancers' Discussion Board. I alwasy though that that incredibly LONG (and thus, slow-loading) post would have made a great book for anyone newly diagnosed with uterine cancer, especially UPSC. And I've always hoped that after I'm dead and gone, that archived post will still be stored here, helping and encouraging women with the pratical 'real time' experiences almost all of us go through, almost universal to all of our cancer journeys. I KNOW it is that kind of go-to resource, attracting a LOT of readers, because if you Google "UPSC Uterine Papillary Serous Carcinoma", it still (and has ALWAYS) shown up within the top 5 listings on the 1st Google search results page. Pretty good for a post that started in 2008!

But I digress.... (HA!)

I was bald after my carbo/taxol. And I was bald after dense dose weekly taxol earned me my 2nd remission. And I was bald a 3rd time when we went back to taxol to see if it could still work it's magic for me. (It couldn't). I never shaved my head any of those times. My hairdresser said that her clients with cancer often complain of how sensitive their scalps are after shaving or even just from irritating the hair follicles losing their hair. So she recommended leaving 1/2" to 1" of hair all over the head to cushion the scalp when you have a hat or wig on. The 1st time she cut my hair because it was thinning so bad from the chemo, it was winter. She combed a lot of my hair forward and cut thick bangs for me that swept my eyebrows, cutting the rest of my hair to 1" all over. That way, when I had a hat on, that fringe of bangs made me look much less bald. Of course eventually the bangs got super thin and I cut them off to the 1" also, but it gave me some time to adjust to being bald. Winter is a lovely time to be bald, as other people are wearing hats and you don't feel so conspicuous. And a wig is miserably hot in the summer, whereas a wig isn't too bad on a cold day. When my hair was nearly gone, I'd just buff my head with a towel after my bath and pretty soon my head was as smooth & hairless. I always treated my bald head as an extention of my face, wasing my scapl with the same special soap I use on my face and extending my facial moisturizers over my whole head every night. I never had any rashes or anything other than sunburn a couple times when I went 'commando' while gardening on a couple of especially hot days.

What I loved about being bald:
1.) the luxusious sensuous pleasure of feeling a cool pillowcase against my bald head when I went to bed.
2.) silky hairless legs like I'd never gotten from shaving
3.) none of those pesky chin hairs or nose hairs that I always seem to notice AFTER I've been out somewhere.
4.) The ability to get a shower during the commercials between TV shows and not miss anything, since you don't have to wash your hair or shave your legs!
5.) the 'cancer card" I ruthlessly played by removing my hat if a cop car was behind me and I was going a little too fast; or when I went into the elementary school to ask them to allow me to check the grandchildren out of school at lunchtime the day before Thanksgiving so that they could bake pies with me.

I looked horrible without my lashes and brows, but I drew on eyebrows and softened that using a brown eye shadow. & I never got too good with eyeliner (which is harder to do without eyelashes) but bought eye shadow in the deepest navy and smudged that around my eyes and that

Bright lipstick, big earring, huge smile: bald can be beautiful!


CindyGSD's picture
Posts: 191
Joined: Aug 2011

Thanks to everyone who responded to my (not so dumb) question about hair loss. Initially I was going to get my hair cut in some funky style that I would never do if I wasn’t going to lose it in the near future, but by the time I got around to checking out hair styles, it was already falling out. If I’m going to drop $50 on a hair cut I’d like to enjoy it for a couple weeks and now that’s not going to happen.

It’s amazing how fast it goes especially when it doesn’t seem like I’m pulling out all that much hair. I say pulling out because like you, Norma, I’ve sort of developed a habit of running my fingers through it a little obsessively, hurrying the process along.

I probably won’t shave it until I get some bald spots. Right now I can pull the hair back and my part is getting wider and wider. I was joking with a friend that I might do comb overs and have bobby clips all over my head holding the longer hair in place to cover the bald spots. I call this…not facing reality.

I’m not overly thrilled about wearing a wig either, but I already know that I won’t be one of those people that goes out in public bald. I’ve had stitches in my head twice due to falls from horses, so I’m sure I don’t have a very pretty head.

Knowing that I’m not the only one that has made this journey is helpful and comforting and I appreciate that you shared your experiences.

Take care

carolenk's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011

I cut my hair really short before I shaved my head because I didn't want to clog the bathtub drain.

jazzy1's picture
Posts: 1385
Joined: Mar 2010

I as with many others, chose to have it cut short and try to see how long I could keep most of the hair. As time went it was coming out in clumps so I just let it fall out. During this later phase went to scarves and a wig as I look like a person living in a concentration camp...didn't need "stairs" from others walking by.

This time was very difficult for me as we're all noted about our health related so much to our looks. After a while I started to get used to my new wig (cut and different style I could never wear with my regular hair type). Think positive and enjoy the NEW YOU!!

My one friend suggested I show my strengths and go out bald...gosh no! That's not me~~

Hugs & kisses,

Posts: 471
Joined: Feb 2011


My own hair (dark brown shoulder-length that I usually wored in a ponytail) I had cut short two weeks before chemo.
Everyone loved it--including me.

I started losing my hair after my second chemo infusion. Expected to find clumps on my pillow but didn't. Instead would go comb my hair each morning only to see not the usual three strands in the comb, but twenty. "Well, just stop combing it and you'll keep it," I smiled to myself.

But each morning the strands came out like a waterfall.

Nor did I want to shave my head, for I imagined my scalp would feel itchy as it grew back. So I just LEFT it short until I was nearly bald.

Like many others, I bought a wig and wore it three times. Too tight, too phony, not for me.

Instead I started to wear little cotton caps and scarves sold in our hospital boutique--though I could have gotten them more cheaply online through American Cancer Society. Just Google "three seamed turban" or "chemo caps."

Students at the college where I teach have asked "Where do you get those great turbans?." (Hardly suspected to start a new fashion or to achieve "chemo chic," but the secretaries tell me that I look great in the little hats.

I agree with others that losing our eyebrows and eyelashes is a bit more aggravating, but yes, brow pencil helps a lot.

And by the way: during my second round of chemo (last three treatments), I lost way less hair on my head than I did in round one--but noticed yesterday that have again been losing my lashes and brows. Oh, well!

Do whatever you feel comfortable with. And shampooing less frequently can help. Use a very gentle hampoo with tea tree oil if possible.


Posts: 4
Joined: Sep 2011

Hi Cindy

When I got diagnosed, I had long blonde hair. Before my surgery, I cut six inches off and then dyed it bright pink, just for fun. I had always wanted pink hair as a kid so I decided to take the opportunity at 44. LOL. I purchased a human hair wig....big waste of money. My hair began falling out on day ten. then day eleven, I awakened and a lot of hair was on the pillow. I took a shower, and the hair was wrapping around my fingers. That gave me a lot of anxiety......not because of losing my hair, but because it was a visual confirmation that I was sick. So I got up and drove to my daughter's house. She cut my hair to an inch long. I felt more in control then.

I tried the wraps and the scarfs for two days. Not for me. So I went to a wig outlet not far from my home, and I began trying on blonde wigs. Then I decided to try some red wigs, what the h*ll....and then brunette, black and silver. I even tried on dreadlocks. I tried on every length style and color and bought five. So when I went to work, I changed my hair with my outfit. My employees got a kick out of it, as did all my customers, since I'm pretty well known in my town.

I got a blood infection a few days later, and ended up in the hospital, where I took a wet washcloth and rubbed the rest of my crew cut off in the shower.

It was a relief. And I'm glad the hair loss fiasco was over quickly rather than prolonging the inevitable. It's all about doing what's right for you. I couldnt deal with the impending doom, and the wigs made it way more fun for me.

Best of luck, really.



Since I owned a large liquor store, everyone in the town knew I had cancer. I had to smile a lot. I was a pro at false eyelashes and drawing on eyebrows. I'm talking a pro. But it sure was nice to change into a long brown wig and be able to walk around a local mall and not have anyone come up to me asking me how I felt. I loved the anonymity of the wigs. I never found them uncomfortable in the least. I ended up with 13, and my kids really enjoyed wearing them with me. (my kids were in college at the time) And I cant tell you how many strangers in nine months asked me where I got my hair cut or colored....never realizing I was in a wig until I told them.

No way was I ever walking around bald. I wanted a little peace, and to be out of the spotlight. Wigs did that for me.

txtrisha55's picture
Posts: 688
Joined: Apr 2011

I had surgery April 8. I had dark brown hair with a natural silver/gray streak down the right side of my face. I took as much of the silver hair and braided it then cut it off about an inch then went and got my hair cut short April 30. I started chemo May 6. Hair started falling out in clumps 20 May. I pulled out most of it sitting on my bed with a bag in front on me. I took an electric razor and set it for 1/8" and cut the rest off.
My sister and my daughter were upset that I did it as they wanted to be there to support me. My daughter wanted to be the one to cut it. I told them it was personal thing, my hair and I wanted to me in control of it.

I lathered and shaved my head a few days later. Now five weeks after my last checmo treatment I still shave my head when the nubs get to hard to bare. But I do plan to get pass the rough stage of letting it grow back in once it will stay in.

I started back to work Jun 6 with a bright shiny bald head. I live in Texas, were we started having 100 degree hot days. Wigs, hats, scarfs tied on my head was like turning on a faucet. I did have hats and scarfs and would wear them when I was outside but inside I just went bare. Got a lot of complements too! Everyone said I had the perfect head for being bald. I do not know if that is true but it was comfortable for me.

I had no one to ask questions off because I did not want to put my story out there. No one at work (building of over 2,000 workers) had put their story out there so no one to ask questions. I do go to this web site and read all the stories but never posted until recently. I have someone here at work now that is going through ovarian cancer at the same cancer center I went to, so I can now mentor her through it. She is wearing Harley scarfs and baseball caps.

Each person has to decide how they want to be seen and how they want to go through this journey. I chose bald, no makeup, no hiding. I did beakout my old jewerly collections and clip on earrings and bought a bunch more dangling earrings. Dressed to the nines with all the jewerly, having a good time with it.

It all depends on your personal choice and personality. Keep up the good spirits and it is all in the attitude. Just remember: "This to shall pass!" If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it. Good Luck on your journey. trish

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2831
Joined: Jun 2010

It's really worth thinking of doing permanent makeup. I did both eyebrows and eyeliner in June. (It's actually been one year today since my last chemo and I still don't have much hair anywhere). I wish I'd done the permanent makeup years ago. I get up in the morning and my eyes have definition. I don't look as much like a blob of putty with blue orbs. Even with the lack of hair on my head I feel human again. I love it. It's definitely something to consider and I didn't until I just got sick of being without color. And after your hair comes back, your life will be so much easier.

I was also good at the false eyelash thing. I didn't lose my eyelashes until about a month after chemo was over. Then they just jumped off my face. I could apply the false ones well and no one knew (honest). They're back now, very short and sparse, but with a bucket of mascara they're ok (not great, but ok). Still keep false eyelashes around in case I feel ambitious.

You'll learn lots of gromming tricks on this journey. No one mentioned permanent makeup or seemed to have much success with the false eyelashes, but I did.

Best of luck.

lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I was just wondering what happened when your own eyebrows grew back in. I was thinking of getting eyeliner and brows tatooed on (although I never have been an eyeliner-wearer) but worried that my own eyebrows would come in and I'd have 2 on each side! HA! Was that silly? Could they tell where your eyebrows used to be? I was as hairless all over as a lizard after taxol (not even fuzz on my face or arms: a LIZARD!) and could never have found where my eyebrows once were after they disappeared. Every day it seems I drew them on someplace else, trying to get it right.

ps: When my eyebrows came back in they were sooooo much wider than they'd ever been and I had to go at them hard with the tweezers. & yet I still loved them because they were back! Now they seem more their old shape with minimal plucking, so thankfully the wolfman re-growth does go away.

cathyK's picture
Posts: 93
Joined: Jul 2009

ok, first off there are no dumb questions !
I had hair down past my behind! had it cut back to my ears just before first chemo , quite a shock , then let it go , did not shave it, had hair everywhere, but did not care, thought that if I still had hair , any hair , everything was going to be ok, had it shaved off finally , the few hairs that held on, around 1 month after last chemo, and waited for the peach fuzz to come through. so it is all up to you as you see from all the posts. I had a trial of weather to let it grow at least to shoulder blades or keep it very short, went long when I had a kid behind me say , "excuse me sir" !!!!! so growing it back :)

CindyGSD's picture
Posts: 191
Joined: Aug 2011

...from the time that my hair started falling out until just a few reluctant stranglers remain (and what's with that...can't pull those bad boys out for nothing). I'm going to have a friend shave my head for me today, not a buzz, but super short.

I didn't have too many problems just letting it fall out on it's own. My hair is/was shoulder length and yes it was messy in the bathroom, but I didn't have the problem with hair all over my pillow at night. It just tended to tangle up as it fell out and every morning I would just brush out the latest glob. I did have issues with itching and burning which was probably the worst part.

I guess letting it fall out on it's own worked for me and gave me time to adjust to it. It really became noticeable this past Tuesday but since I spent the entire week at the hospital or clinic (port insertion and three days of chemo)I didn't care how I looked.

I ordered a dozen or so scarves and hats online and got them yesterday and I have my wig for work on Monday, so I think I'm set to go. I haven't decided if I'm a wig, scarf or hat girl yet, maybe I'll be all three.

I can't say it was a pleasant experience, but now that it's gone...or almost gone, its just one less thing to worry about. Thanks again for everyone's comments and insight.


Posts: 3
Joined: Sep 2011

Cindy, I, too was told that 2 weeks to the day from my first chemo my hair would fall out. It started. I wear my hair pretty short anyway, so my sister cut it to about 1/4 in. I didn't shave the scalp on the advice of my hairdresser. She said it can damage the follicles. I prefer hats to wigs. My friends and family have had fun finding me hats. I also have some scarves and knit hats, but mostly wear those at home. The knit hats and turbans make me look like a turtle. Folks at church are always looking to see which hat I'll wear today! I don't have a wig. I didn't want to wear them because I don't think they look natural and they are hot and tight. I wish you best of luck. I'm starting my second round of chemo and will be bald again soon. My hair and eyebrows have just started growing back. I really missed my eyebrows more than my hair.

Posts: 3
Joined: Aug 2010

It was my experience that once it started falling out it was not long until it was all gone.
Your therapy may work on your hair a little differently but I lost all hair all over my body.
Wigs are hot but I still used them a lot. Scarves are great for making you feel less exposed and adding a little color to face. I think I missed my eyebrows and eyelashes the most.....
My therapy was for breast cancer.

Lois B.
Posts: 10
Joined: Sep 2011

Hi Cindy,

It's amazing how devastating it is to lose your hair. My first go around with chemo for breast cancer, I was determined that I was not going to lose my hair. When I did, I totally freaked out. (1994) with no breast cancer recurrence.

Okay, so now it's 2008 - I'm diagnosed with UPSC - Do I have control over anything?
This time I knew I was going to lose my hair. Even before my first chemo session, I had my daughter in-law shave it all off. I did have control over when I was going to lose my hair.
I went out and got a beautiful wig - I mostly wore it outside of my home and got so many compliments on my new hair style.

Today, they have all kinds of hats - you can even go bald if you choose - try the Look Good Feel Better class that the American Cancer Association sponsors. You'll learn to go glam even without hair. Along with that you'll meet some wonderful sisters that are in similar circumstances.

Here's a little story. A woman got up in the morning and had three hairs on her head. So she said, I'll just braid it and she did. The next day she had two hairs on her head and said, today I'll wear pigtails. The next day she had one hair on her head and said today I'll wear a ponytail. The next day she had no hair and said I don't need to fuss with it today.

And this too shall pass.

When my hair grew back in, it was nice and thick and curly - I called it my chemo-perm.

CindyGSD's picture
Posts: 191
Joined: Aug 2011

So I've been wearing a wig to work for about a week now and the first few days were fine but now it's started to itch. The weather has been warm and I'm attributing the problem to the rise in temperature. It gotten so bad that as I was driving home tonight, I couldn't stand it anymore and basically just pulled the wig off and rested it on the top of my head. I'm sure it looked like a dead animal to other drivers but I'm never going to see them again.

Anyway the idea wearing the wig tomorrow is very unappealing so I might try a scarf. Now if I could only figure out how to tie the darn things. ;o)


Bluebird Bush
Posts: 28
Joined: May 2011

It has helped me to have an extra wig, hat and scarf in the car so that when I get back to the car I can pull off the wig if it is hot, itchy or uncomfortable and pop something else on my head after I have let it air out a little while. Have also carried them into the building with me just in a bag for just in case the one I'm wearing gets too uncomfortable. I have also gone into a stall in the ladies room, sat down & pulled the wig off, scratched and rubbed my head til it felt better, then pop the wig back on and go on.

Good luck, sounds like you are getting the hang of it - keep on keeping on. Genie

txtrisha55's picture
Posts: 688
Joined: Apr 2011

There are lots of ways to tie a scarf on your head and lots of web sites. Here is one: http://www.texeresilk.com/cms-scarf_tying_guide.html

It has several ways to tie a scarf on your head.

Wearing hats is always fun too! I just went bald at work. Several other ladies during my 21 years at my job have worn hats, scarfs, or wigs. The whole aray of things. I think I am the only one that just said here it is, if you cannot deal with it, don't look at me.

My hair is just beginning to come back and it is itching. I kinda liked it better just being bald. I am having to deal with the slow growth back.

Good Luck on finding a scarf style you like. I went bald just because in Texas it was 100 degrees or hotter this summer. I know about how hot a hat or scarf can be.


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