7 tips on wigs for chemotherapy sufferers

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My sister is present process chemotherapy for breast most cancers. In the previous three months, she has develop into infertile, gone by menopause, is shedding kilos per day, shed all her hair and can quickly surgically take away her breasts. Cancer and its therapies, she says, stripped her of her femininity. And whereas going bald is the least of her worries, it’s the one aspect impact she can’t conceal, even whereas sporting her favourite grey beanie.

Wigs will help give chemo sufferers some semblance of normalcy and make them appear and feel like themselves, even for a couple of hours a day. “The majority just want to look normal,” says Hana, proprietor of Hana Designs in Littleton, Colo., who went by chemo for breast most cancers 30 years in the past. “It’s bad enough going through the doctor’s appointments and then the procedures and always getting poked. We just need a little calm so that when we step out into the real world, the real world talks back to us like normal.”

But low cost wigs discovered on-line for $22 will do fairly the alternative, as my sister realized after an impulse Amazon purchase left her itchy and searching uncannily like an American Girl doll.

Luckily, there have been comfy and natural-looking wigs out there at retailers on the town. They additionally got here with professional recommendation from skilled stylists and store house owners who’ve been serving to chemo sufferers for many years.

My sister bought a wig that introduced her megawatt smile again to her face, and we additionally got here away with tips for anybody who’s about to go down the identical street, together with how you can put together for hair loss, the variations between varied sorts of wigs, what to do if you happen to can’t afford one and how you can file a declare along with your insurance coverage to have one lined.

According to the American Cancer Society, hair begins to fall out inside one to 3 weeks after beginning chemotherapy and should develop into noticeable one to 2 months later. Some scalps develop into tender and very delicate to the contact.

Some individuals reduce their hair shorter earlier than chemo to make the transition much less worrying. But if you happen to’ve already begun chemo, it won’t be worthwhile. My sister paid for an Anne Hathaway pixie reduce to aim a transition. But inside a half-day, it already seemed much less red-carpet Hathaway and extra “Les Miserables” Hathaway, and we needed to shave it off.

When you’re able to shave, use electrical clippers, not razors, and by no means clip all the way down to the scalp, Hana says. Leave an inch in size, particularly you probably have stiff or coarse hair like Asians do. “If you clip it to the scalp, the rigid hair will push back inside and make your sensitive scalp even more tender when you sleep on it or touch it,” Hana says. “Leaving a little bit of length will let it fall flat into a forgiving cap.” You would possibly discover itchy hairs throughout your pillow and garments throughout hair loss. Wearing a mesh cap will help catch the strands.

If your aim is to match your wig to your actual hair coloration, preserve a lock of it to point out your wig stylist. Visit a stylist earlier than you lose all your hair, if you happen to can. Or at the least take images of your coiffure as a reference. For probably the most seamless transition, choose your wig earlier than beginning chemo after which wait till your hair is simply beginning to skinny to start sporting it.

A confidence enhance for ladies who lose their hair to most cancers: A free wig and stylist

You would possibly wish to put on it at the same time as your hair begins to develop again. According to this 2019 examine, most people experience hair regrowth around three months after completing their cancer treatment and cease sporting wigs one yr after chemotherapy. But some individuals proceed to put on wigs till their hair grows out longer or as a result of their hair regrowth is initially completely different from their pre-chemo hair.

During chemotherapy, it’s necessary to care for your scalp, which can dry out as a result of your pores and skin stops producing physique oils. “Support the health of your hair follicles so that the day that you stop all your treatment, your hair can start to grow back prolifically without any deterrence,” Hana says. Dry pores and skin, she explains, is a deterrent as a result of these layers of lifeless pores and skin cells block the openings and make it onerous for brand new hair to interrupt by the floor. Exfoliate your scalp typically utilizing a mushy brush or exfoliating gloves within the bathe. A cleanser with salicylic acid or leave-in remedy, akin to Aveda’s Scalp Remedy, additionally helps slough off dry pores and skin, Hana says. And lastly, preserve it moisturized with a mild conditioner. Some individuals use castor oil to advertise wholesome hair regrowth, too.

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Shop domestically if you happen to can. Ask your oncology staff or most cancers assist group for suggestions. Trying on wigs in individual with an expert stylist on the helm will provide the perfect expertise. You’ll go away with a wig that fits your fashion, coloration tone and funds. The stylist would possibly even have the ability to customise the wig by trimming cumbersome areas and including a extra pure hairline, akin to child hairs and sideburns.

If you will need to store on-line, make sure that the shop has an excellent return coverage and directions for measuring your personal head utilizing a stitching measuring tape.

The in-person salon session, which needs to be free, needs to be a dialog about your fashion, your actions, and the way you’re coping with chemotherapy remedy and most cancers. The store must also have the ability that will help you file a declare in case your medical health insurance firm covers or subsidizes wigs.

If your insurance coverage doesn’t cowl wigs, there could be a wig financial institution in your space or nonprofit organizations that supply donated wigs or monetary help. Hana began a nonprofit group called Hana’s Hope to assist individuals who can’t afford a wig. You can even name the ACS’s most cancers helpline (800-227-2345); you’ll both be directed to a wig financial institution in your space or given a present certificates as a way to order a wig by TLC (Tender Loving Care).

How to file insurance coverage claims

Before shopping for a wig, be sure to perceive the procedures and insurance policies outlined by your non-public insurance coverage plan. If want be, name your insurance coverage firm to examine for protection. Medicare parts A and B do not cover wigs for people undergoing chemotherapy, however some Medicare Advantage (half C) plans provide restricted protection.

If you intend to file an insurance coverage declare, ask your physician for a “cranial hair prosthesis” prescription that features a prognosis code and a National Provider Identifier (NPI) code. The wig store will want these codes to generate an bill to undergo your insurance coverage firm. Also, have your physician log out in your insurance coverage declare kind.

Make positive the bill says “cranial hair prosthesis” and never “wig,” says Sunee Kim Watts, proprietor of Kim’s Wig Botik in Denver. The bill must also embrace the store’s tax ID quantity and the suitable health-care frequent process coding system (HCPCS) codes, that are standardized insurance coverage codes for medical procedures, provides, services and products.

If your declare is denied, you’ll be able to enchantment by writing to the medical evaluate board, emphasizing {that a} prosthesis is important and never a beauty merchandise. Include footage of your self with out hair and element the emotional results your hair loss has had in your life. Your employer can even assist by writing a letter.

If your insurance coverage won’t pay for the wig, save your receipt for a possible medical tax deduction. A flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) additionally can be utilized for a wig buy.

Synthetic vs. human hair wigs

Wigs are made out of both artificial fiber, human hair, or a mix of each.

Non-costume wigs can value wherever from $200 to a number of thousand {dollars}. And whereas the next value typically does imply higher high quality, an excellent artificial wig can value about $300. Wigs made from human hair are costlier, costing between $800 and $6,000.

Synthetic wigs are sometimes made from modacrylic fibers produced in Japan. They maintain their fashion even on humid days and don’t should be washed as typically as human-hair wigs — one thing to contemplate as a result of going by chemo doesn’t afford you a lot power to do issues akin to frequently washing and styling a wig. You simply have to preserve these wigs away from warmth — dryers, sizzling instruments and even the range. Generally, artificial wigs final for as much as 5 months with day by day use.

If you go for human hair, you’ll be able to select the ethnicity, fashion and texture for a extra pure look. Wigs made from human hair are primarily reduce in Asia. Wigs made with finer European hair are much less frequent and as a lot as 20 instances costlier. Human hair can face up to the identical therapies your pure hair may, together with rolling, chopping, sizzling instruments and dyeing. But these wigs are heavier than synthetics and require extra upkeep. Human hair wigs final for as much as one yr with day by day use.

Wigs are constructed in two methods: machine-made and hand-tied.

Machine-made wigs are probably the most inexpensive, that includes open wefts — strands of hair fibers which are sewn or glued to tracks of stretchy materials to make layered curtains of hair. The again and sides are open for air flow whereas the hair on prime is usually evenly teased or crimped to cover the cap. “They’re less expensive [$200 to $400] but can be itchy and uncomfortable on a cancer patient’s sensitive scalp,” Watts says. “They would need to wear a cap underneath to make it more comfortable.”

Hand-tied wigs function mushy, versatile mesh caps to which particular person hair strands are tied. The cap molds to the form of your head, and you may half a hand-tied wig in any path and have extra freedom to fashion it nevertheless you’d like. The hair appears prefer it’s rising proper out of your scalp as a result of you’ll be able to really see by to your scalp with out cumbersome material in the way in which. Hand-tied wigs typically begin at $400.

Monofilament wigs can function each sorts of development — the again and sides are machine-made whereas the entrance and prime are hand-tied for a extra pure look.

Another attribute you may want in your wig is a lace entrance, which is a superb mesh alongside the entrance that corporations sew hair into to imitate a natural-looking hairline.

When hair falls out, the scalp might really feel tender or delicate. Some wigs can irritate the scalp, so sporting a bamboo or cotton skullcap between the scalp and the wig can present a protecting barrier — and assist safe the wig and take up sweat. Hana says to keep away from nylon or fishnet caps that may pinch and bind and aren’t breathable.

A velvety wig band could be worn as a substitute of or along with a wig cap. The material’s nap acts like a grippy headband that helps preserve the wig in place. Most of them additionally function a sheer mesh patch that sits beneath the wig’s half in case you may have a monofilament wig.

When you’re not sporting your wig, you’ll wish to retailer it on a wig stand away from daylight, warmth, moisture and dirt.

Wearing a wig isn’t difficult, however correct alignment is vital. If you’re shopping for your wig in a walk-in retailer, the stylist ought to present you how you can put it on and modify it.

Look Good Feel Better, the charitable arm of the Personal Care Products Council, which represents the private care merchandise business, provides free wig workshops that go over these particulars. You can seek for one in your space or join a virtual workshop.

Generally, a wig needs to be washed after 14 to 18 wearings, however as a result of chemo sufferers have such dry scalps, they may go as much as a month earlier than washing. You ought to wash your wig extra typically to take away sweat and dust if you happen to’re particularly lively open air. Gently swirl your wig in a mix of chilly water and delicate shampoo. Let it soak for a couple of minutes, then rinse with chilly water. Lightly wrap the wig in a towel to take away extra water and drape it on a wig stand to dry. Once fully dry, brush it with a plastic or wire brush utilizing gentle, brief strokes. A wire wig brush is greatest, as a typical hairbrush with nylon bristles can overstretch and injury wig hair.

You shouldn’t use heated styling instruments or a hair dryer on an artificial wig except it’s labeled “heat friendly” or “heat defiant,” a function that may double the worth of the wig.

A very good wig stylist can even assist preserve, trim and restore your wig to make it last more. Synthetic wigs can get slightly crunchy over time.

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