Does Radiation Cause Hair Loss?

Radiation therapy, a common cancer treatment, can cause hair loss in the area of the body that is exposed to the radiation. This type of hair loss is often called radiation-induced alopecia. The severity and timing of hair loss can vary based on several factors, including:

  • Radiation Dose: The higher the radiation dose and the more prolonged the treatment, the more likely hair loss is to occur.
  • Location of Radiation: Hair loss primarily occurs in the area directly exposed to radiation. For example, if radiation therapy is targeted at the head or neck, hair loss can affect the scalp and facial hair.
  • Individual Variability: The response to radiation therapy can vary among individuals. Some may experience complete hair loss in the treated area, while others may have partial or no hair loss.

It’s important to note that hair loss due to radiation therapy is often temporary, and hair can start to regrow several months after the completion of treatment. The regrowth process may vary from person to person, and the hair may initially be different in texture or color.

If you or someone you know is undergoing radiation therapy and has concerns about potential hair loss, it’s advisable to discuss these concerns with the healthcare team, which can provide information and guidance on managing the side effects of treatment. In some cases, scalp cooling or cold caps may be used to reduce the risk of hair loss during radiation therapy, but their effectiveness can vary depending on the specific treatment protocol and individual factors.