Radiotherapy – wigs and options
We understand that you may have many concerns about hair loss. May we kindly advise you to look at our Radiotherapy guide first so that you have a good understanding of how external beam radiotherapy may affect your scalp area.
If you already know about how you may be affected by hair loss please continue to browse through the information below.
- External beam radiotherapy does not always cause hair thinning or hair loss – it will depend on the type, dosage and quantity of treatments to the scalp area.
- If hair loss does occur, this is only in the area that is exposed to treatment and not the entire body – this means that your scalp hair may not be affected at all unless you are treated around the scalp, head and neck area.
- Only your medical team can provide you with the specific information you need to know the potential size and area of hair loss on your scalp area.
- The hair may grow back again but some people can be left with an area of permanent baldness or thinner hair on the treatment area.
- If hair loss or hair thinning does occur there are plenty of options to help cover areas of hair loss and help you feel good about your style.
- Over the last three years hair replacement systems have become much more readily available and can be an excellent option to cover patchy areas of hair loss which can often be the case with radiotherapy to the scalp area.
Looking for wigs, hair pieces and hair replacements suitable due to radiotherapy
When it comes to looking at what type of wig, hairpiece or hair replacement system may be suitable to cover any areas of hair loss due to radiotherapy treatment to the scalp, it really is a case by case situation. With chemotherapy treatment and hair loss we can be much more general, however when it comes to radiotherapy treatment to the scalp area there can be temporary, long-term or permanent areas of hair loss.
Hair loss may be very small and not very noticeable, or could cover larger areas and so in order to work out the most suitable type of wig, hair replacement system or hairpiece you can browse through our Wig guide before taking a trip to a supplier.
The good news for anyone covering hair loss due to radiotherapy treatment is that over the last three years the variety of hairpieces and in particular, hair replacement systems, has dramatically increased. A hairpiece or hair system can be secured to the scalp with wig glue that in some cases means you can keep the piece on for a few weeks before taking it off and re-attaching. Alternatively, in some cases a hairpiece is attached to existing hair with a wig clip. If required, a full wig can be offered. In the case of hair loss due to radiotherapy, as with chemotherapy, the NHS can provide support towards costs of a wig or hairpiece where applicable.
The following are key tips if you have had radiotherapy to the scalp. Once you have read these points you can then take a look through the rest of our Wig guide.
NHS referral for a wig or hair piece
Whilst it is normally your oncologist who will initially tell you that hair loss will be a side effect of your cancer treatment, e.g. external beam radiotherapy to the scalp area, it is usually your cancer nurse who will talk to you in more detail about preparing for hair loss and action your referral for a wig supplied through the NHS system.
Take a look in our section Visiting your local NHS wig supplier for in-depth information.
Getting your head around the hair loss lingo
It’s fair to say that there are many terms and words used to describe various wig, hairpiece and hair loss replacements systems. However, we have done our best in our Wig Guide to give you an easy to read overview about what is on offer. This way when you go along to a wig/hair replacement supplier you will be well informed of your options.
It really is well worth popping the kettle on, making a cuppa and taking time to read through this guide so that you can know your wig cap from your toupee tape.
Additionally, our specialist team are here to support you. We offer the UK’s only charity help support line specifically to support people with their hair care needs during cancer treatment. Call Our helpline.
Headwear and hair transplant options
If a wig or hairpieces isn’t for you it may be that you would like to consider a hair transplant. At present a hair transplant is not available on the NHS but it is something that some people consider.
If a hair transplant is something you are considering you make like to talk to an organisation such as the Institute of Trichologists who can supply a list of qualified surgeons and offer you a (private – non NHS) consultation about your options.
Additionally Hats, scarves & headwear may also be an option.
For ideas and inspiration take a look through the rest of our Wig guide.
“I’m glad I took the time to get my head around understanding how to cover a patch of hair loss (about the size of a small orange) on the left side of my scalp as I would never have thought of having something made specifically for me. I invested in a hairpiece (hair system) that is made from human hair and is glued onto my scalp. I can even go swimming and it doesn’t come off. “ Amanda, 48.
Next planned review: February 2025