Treatment-related hair loss is one of the common side-effects of interferon-based treatment. While common, those who experience treatment-related hair loss tend to have varied results – some notice a thinning or a change in texture, while others may lose nearly all of their hair. Usually, a patient only experiences interferon-based hair loss temporarily (while undergoing therapy), but they may continue to notice hair changes and loss for up to as many as 3 months after completing treatment.
The good news is that changes in texture or hair loss is almost always temporary, and the hair damaged and lost while undergoing interferon treatment usually grows back. Occasionally, people have even noticed their hair comes back healthier and thicker than prior to being diagnosed and embarking on an HCV treatment regimen.
Ways to Reduce Hair Loss for HEP C (HCV) Patients
Changes to your hair or hair loss can be alarming, and most people want to be as proactive as possible so as to reduce the effects of such changes. Some people have found these steps to be helpful in minimizing the loss of hair they experience after being diagnosed and/or while under HCV treatment:
* Try to wash your hair infrequently – every other day or every third day
* If you shower daily, consider skipping the shampoo and using only water to rinse hair and scalp – this helps maintain natural moisture and oils on the scalp
* When shampooing, shampoo twice to clear follicles of all access build-up
* Use conditioner generously
* Gently massage your head, neck, shoulders, and the scalp while shampooing and when out of the shower to help increase and improve circulation to the scalp and your hair follicles
* Use natural, paraben-free shampoos, conditioners, and hair products when possible, making sure to avoid harsh chemical and dyes
* Get your hair cut often – blunt, layered, short cuts can make thinner hair look fuller
* Try Nioxin shampoo to help damaged or dry hair
* Avoid heated styling tools like hair dryers, rollers, and curling irons. If needed, keep them at the lowest possible temperature
* When towel-drying hair, rub softly, and avoid too much friction
* Try to avoid styling hair while wet – wait for it to air dry
* Brush hair lightly with soft bristle brushes or wide tooth combs
* Protect your hair and scalp from sun damage with sunscreen or hats
* Avoid teasing hair or using styling products to tease hair
* Consider eliminating styles that are hard on the hair shaft and can pull additional strands out such as braiding, tight pony tails, or weaves
* Sleep on satin pillow cases that will reduce friction while you sleep
Always Consult with a Physician!
Although usually temporary, changes in hair texture and hair loss can greatly impact one’s body image, confidence, sense of self, and overall quality of life. If you’re experience changes in hair texture or loss, always consult with your physician before adapting or adding to your treatment regimen, as your mental health while undergoing treatment is incredibly important. A clinician might be able to suggest psychological, peer-led support groups or make recommendations to help reduce the impact on the changes to your hair and/or the severity of your hair loss. Sometimes, other medical concerns could be affecting the texture and thickness of your hair that are unrelated to the hepatitis c virus or the HCV therapy, so it’s always key to consult your doctor about any and all concerns first.