In this section, we'll discuss everything you need to know about the very visible parts of your body that are affected by cancer treatments — your hair, skin, and nails.
You can find out all about hair loss and managing skin and nail side effects on these pages:
- Why and How Hair Loss Happens
- When Will Your Hair Grow Back?
- Coping With Hair Loss
- Scarves, Hats, and Turbans
- Cold Caps and Scalp Cooling Systems
- Managing Hair Loss: Video Series
- Skin Care
- Chemotherapy and Your Nails
No side effect of breast cancer treatment seems more disturbing than hair loss. For many women, it's worse than losing a breast, which can be hidden under baggy clothing. Hair loss (the medical term is alopecia) threatens your sense of self, your privacy, your sexuality, your personal image, and your vanity—because it's so visible.
Your hair is a big part of how you appear to others and the reflection you see every time you look in the mirror. It's part of the look that helps define you. When your hair goes, you have to start thinking about other ways to present yourself to the world. The cropped or bald look will take some getting used to. Fortunately, although it may seem to take an eternity, your hair WILL come back.
Yes, it's traumatic—but it's also most often temporary.
“Nothing was as bad as losing my hair. My best friend called me when I was feeling so blue about it. ‘We're going out to get you a wig.’ ‘I can't—it's a really bad day for me.’ ‘Look, getting a wig is one of the worst things you can do—so this is a perfect day to do it. Why screw up a GOOD day? I'm coming over, and we'll go shopping and screw up the rest of a bad day!’”— Marie