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How To Care For Your Scalp After Chemo Hair Loss

How To Care For Your Scalp After Chemo Hair Loss

This is me, in 1988, in treatment for ovarian cancer

How to Care for Your Scalp After Chemo Hair Loss

It’s all new to you. You have cancer. You prepared yourself as best you could for chemo hair loss. You bought a wig or a few hats and headscarves. You got through the hair loss process, but now what? How do you care for your newly bald head?

I learned a lot from my own experience in chemo treatment for ovarian cancer in 1988, then I learned even more from the cancer patients I saw for the next 25 years in my hairdressing practice.

Here are my best tips on how to care for your scalp after chemo hair loss.

1. Continue to wash your scalp every day when you shower or bathe. If you don't shower every day, at least run a warm washcloth over your head to remove perspiration and oil. 

Your scalp will produce the same amount of sweat and oil whether you have hair or not. Think about how dirty your hair gets in one day. That’s because your hair collects and absorbs all the sweat and oil.

If you allow that perspiration and oil to build up, you could get a type of cradle cap, but that will not be an issue if you wash your head every day.     

2. Use your regular shampoo unless it makes your scalp feel dry and tight. If it does, switch to a milder shampoo, such as a professional shampoo for color treated hair. 

Do not use bar soap. It’s way too harsh and can irritate your scalp and hair follicles. No need to use conditioner on your head. Conditioner is to soften and detangle your hair. 

3. You may read articles that say to use lotion on your head. Please don’t. As I mentioned above, your scalp probably produces plenty of natural oil. If your scalp does get dry, use a facial moisturizer that is free of mineral oil or any petroleum products which are usually found in hand lotion. 

If you use hand lotion on your head, it will make your wig or hats and scarves dirtier faster, leading to more frequent washing, and who needs that?  

The exception would be if you have radiation on your head. That’s a different story. In that case, use whatever products your radiologist recommends.

4. Let your scalp breathe. Choose soft, breathable fabrics for your head coverings and take them off a few times a day, if you can. 

For more information on how to prepare for chemo hair loss, watch my video: Chemotherapy Hair Loss: To Shave or Not to Shave Your Head

Have a question? Send an email to and stay tuned for more Chemo Tips.



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