Hair loss, especially for women, can be emotionally devastating, as hair greatly affects appearance, which is often tied to self esteem. Even more so when the hair loss could have been avoided. Nearly a thousand cancer patients who took the chemotherapy drug Taxotere are suing drug-maker Sanofi-Aventis, saying the drug company did not give them the information they needed about the drug’s side effects to make an informed decision about which chemotherapy drug to use for treatment.
“I have no doubt that, had I been told that Taxotere had a chance of permanent baldness, I would have selected Taxol. I know this because I have notes asking four different doctors the difference between the two. And I was told that the main difference was the inconvenience of getting the Taxol more often. This inconvenience is nothing compared to forty years of wearing a hot, itchy wig,” one woman says on support group A Head of Our Time’s blog.
Besides providing a supportive community for those who have unfortunately already been affected by the drug, the blog and other activists seek to raise awareness so that oncologists are fully informed of Taxotere’s side effects and future cancer patients have the chance to make a choice with the knowledge of the hair loss risk.
Another kind of avoidable hair loss that is often blogged about is traction or tension alopecia, which is caused by, for example, too tight braids, pony tails or weaves pulling on hair. Zalebs lists some symptoms to be aware of, which include headaches following hair styling, an itchy or sensitive scalp, spots that look like pimples on your scalp, or a receding hairline, most commonly at the temples and behind the ears. Hair breakage is reversible, but once the hair has been pulled out by the root it won’t grow back, so knowledge and prevention is the best way to deal with this kind of alopecia.
Some suggestions for prevention are:
- Don’t pull hair so tight.
- Let hair rest from chemicals, combing, and styling.
- Give hair a week break between hairstyles and relaxing.
- Alternate hairstyles.
- Sleep with material that is gentle on your hair, such as satin.
- Remove knots left after braids carefully, avoiding breakage.
Hair products such as castor oil, olive oil, pure, unrefined coconut oil, and raw, organic apple cider vinegar were recommended for helping to fight tension.
A Head of Our Time