Stages of Hair Loss

Losing hair is the most challenging part of treatment for both men and women. Hair loss can be interpreted as a sign of cancer for many. The majority of people are not ready to share this information with others, but preparing and knowing what to expect can make it easier to deal with the situation.

The first step is to speak with your cancer care team. It will be explained to you how your particular treatment will affect your hair. Keep in mind that everyone's treatment is unique, and your experience may differ from others. Depending on the individual, some people may lose all their hair while others may lose only a portion.

My Hair loss experience

During my treatment, I was unprepared for hair loss. Due to my lack of knowledge, I was anxious. Within a week of my first chemo session, my hair began to fall out. Being woken up with a pile of hair on my pillow was the most shocking part.

After my hair started to thin out, I was afraid to go completely bald or to visit the hairdresser! Not knowing what to do, my mum called a hairdresser to come to the house and cut my hair short. I was able to manage my hair much easier and my hair looked thicker and fuller as a result.

The worst part came about a week later. Awakening with patches of baldness. I was horrified by this, since every time I glanced in the mirror, I was reminded of my illness and everything I had experienced since then.

The day came to shave it all off, and I felt very low, but afterwards I was relieved not to see clumps of hair fall out. I shaved my head with my fiancé, since I felt more comfortable doing it with someone I love and in the comfort of my own home. Definitely more comfortable to do it this way if you are really nervous instead of heading to the hairdressers. 


Check out the stages of hair loss to help prepare yourself:

1st Stage: Hair slowly falls out

  • Hair usually begins falling out two to four weeks after you start treatment.
  • Your head may become tender. 
  • Hair may fall out quickly in clumps or gradually.
  • Depending on your treatment, your hair may become thin or completely bald.
2nd Stage: 
Have Fun! 
  • If you know you are going to lose all your hair, why not try dying it crazy colours or trying that hairstyle you always wanted? 
  • Experiment and have fun! 
3rd Stage: 
Short Style 
  • Short hair doesn't lie flat against your head, so it can make your hair look thicker and fuller. 
  • Easier to manage when hair begins to fall out and easier to manage under wigs. 
4th Stage: 
Wig Buying 
  • If you are thinking about getting a wig, it is wise to get one before you lose all your hair. This will make it easier to be able to match the wig with your real hair. 

5th Stage: 
The Shave 
  • This is the hardest stage, but it may help, as watching your hair can become more distressing.
  • If you choose to shave, use an electric shaver or go to a barbershop. This will reduce the risk of cutting yourself and developing an infection. 


For help with life after hair loss read - 'Coping with After Hair Loss'