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    Asked by dekdo on Monday, April 15, 2013

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    Thank you for answering my first question but I have some more. When I lose my hair what kind of shampoo do you use? Is there better bedding to sleep on? Should I get a cap to sleep with? I love to sleep in a cool room as it is. I also have been fighting a breasted infection, once it goes away how long before the swelling goes away?

    17 Answers from the Community

    17 answers
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      I will answer your questions based on my own experience only. When I started losing my hair, I asked my husband to shave the rest of it off. Yes, it was shocking--but we got over it. I usually would just wash my bald head with soap in the shower. Now I have about 2/3" fuzz and I use my usual shampoo.

      Many nights I had trouble sleeping, and would find more relief in getting up and sleeping in a recliner, rather than in bed. There are many websites (headcovers.com, ie) where you can buy soft chemo caps for sleeping. (They are also easy to make, if you sew.)

      I can't advise you on a breast infection but I'd ask my doc if it would be ok to use an ice pack to help control the swelling and how long it would last.

      Good luck. You can do this--many of us have done it, too. :-)

      over 3 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      Nah - do what makes you and your head feel comfortable. If you're super unlucky with regard to your bald head (I sure as heck was), you might end up with scalp acne. If that happens to you... I've written on the topic of horrible scalp acne before...

      I have a recipe for getting and handling on nasty pizza head... Mine was sooooo bad - it was ugly and embarrassing and it HURT!


      GOOD LUCK!

      Alopecia scalp care – OK – an ugly side of chemo hair loss is horrible horrible ugly pizza head. And by ugly, I mean ginormous ugly looking white heads on your scalp! The things look painful and are painful. Not everyone gets them, but I sure as heck did! And there’s no way a person could tell me – oh – they aren’t really all that noticeable! The docs all told me to just leave my head open to the air. I just couldn’t do that because I found the acne to be so … well… embarrassing! They also said no hot showers! I love hot showers! They also said don’t rub your head when you dry it – just pat it dry!!!! NONE of these things helped even one tiny bit. So, I did some research… and combined things I found in order to come up with my own recipe for success.

      Lee Penn’s two-step recipe for a smooth and acne-free chemo scalp.

      ONE: When you shower, use hibiclens on your head. Do not let hibiclens get into your eyes or ears. Use a dime amount in the palm of your wet hand… Before your head gets wet, rub that all over your head for around 15-30 seconds…. RINSE SUPER WELL! Your shower can be as hot or not hot as you prefer.

      Lee Penn's totally acne-free and smooth bald head.

      TWO: After you shower and your scalp is dry, use a salicylic acid solution on your head. About a dime to nickel size amount in your palm – rub over your whole head… I believe that you are free to rub or pat your head dry. I like to rub because it just feels good. Then, Once totally try, wear whatever you like on your head.

      Viola! Within about one week, my horrid scalp acne had completely resolved, and I was once again willing to let the world see my bald head.

      over 3 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear dekdo,

      Hi. I'm Aliza, a BC patient and the site's resident unofficial Medical Librarian. Med Librarians give advice (usually non medical [giving med advice is against our code of ethics and tends to be illegal as well as it's considered practicing medicine sans license]). We do however do many other things like refer people to doctors, hospitals/institutions, agencies, etc. We train physicians on how to search and we do research when required/requested.

      I think you might find some of the information to your questions on the Komen site, but the part of your question that most concerns me is that you mention you're fighting a breast infection. That's very serious and it won't go away on its' own!. I'm hoping that your doctor-either breast surgeon or plastic surgeon has been advised about this and is on top of it. If they haven't, get off the computer now and phone your treating hospital and ask for either of those services (breast service or plastics service) and ask who the covering doctor for Dr. X (your doctor) is this evening. That infection is called cellulitis and it often requires hospitalization with IV antibiotics asap. I know because I've had two episodes of it. I'm permitted to speak from my own experience. Describe your infection to the doctor on call. Is your breast hot, red, do you have a fever, are you feeling ill or tired? They may want to admit you immediately or want you to call you doctor tomorrow.

      Once a breast infection is treated (via IV antibiotics) the redness and swelling go down in a couple of days (at least in my experience).

      Your breast infection is first priority before what kind of shampoo you'll use, what kind of bedding to sleep on, or whether to get cap to sleep with. We can work on those later. Work on getting rid of your serious infection first if your doctor hasn't addressed it.

      Wishing you the best! If you wish you ask me anything else, feel free to contact me here or offsite via email.

      Warm wishes,

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I just used my regular shampoo....used my same bed and pillows....didn't do anything different in that regards....I have a fan in my bedroom and often open the window.....also, I only have a sheet and comforter on my bed and only use the sheet and sleep in undies and a cami.....

      over 3 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      When I lost my hair, I just washed my bald head along with my face. When my hair started coming in, I used a shampoo recommended by a relative who has cancer clients -- it is Nissan -- it is rather pricey but I got a decent price on Amazon. It was supposed to encourage the hair growth. I am not sure how much it helped as I had nothing to compare with -- but I was just glad to get my hair back. I had gotten a silk pillow case in one of my Cancer Care Baskets and I found that it was very soothing to sleep on. Sometimes, I would wear a soft turban to keep my head warm. We have a small dog -- Chocolate Pomeranian -- fluffy. I would wake up at night to find him wrapped around my bald head trying to keep me warm. On couch days, after chemo, he would lay on my chest trying to comfort me. I guess they know. I wish you the best!!

      over 3 years ago
    • Msreje's Avatar

      Hello Dekdo, I had a lot of scalp pain/discomfort as my hair was falling out so I decided to shave it off. I did it all by myself and of course I cried. I think this was the hardest thing to do but I could not stand the situation. After shaving it off I did not have the need for a shampoo, I just used soap in the shower. A nurse at the chemo center recommended I use baby shampoo, it is natural and cannot hurt. As I went thru all of this in the winter I used a sleeping cap made of cotton for sleeping and turbans and hats during the day that I purchased from the American Cancer Association's website: http://www.tlcdirect.org/ . I try to give back as much as I can as they have done so much for us. When it came to sleeping I had a single mastectomy with reconstruction and I found that sleeping on the recliner was the best for me. I could not lay down flat on my bed for a long time- about a month. After several months all of this seems like a dream, a bad one, but all has passed and my hair is growing back and I no longer need a sleeping cap. Slowly but surely everything is coming back to normal. Be strong, one day at a time, each day that passes is better than the previous one. All the best to you!!!!

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      I used head and shoulders 2 in 1. Was better for the scalp. I couldn't stand the constant hair loss so within a week of it starting I had my fiance shave my head, carefully. It just felt better and the scalp was very sensitive. I tried to use the chemo cap, but I was much more comfy just natural. No special pillows, etc. Do what makes you comfortable. Don't try to be a hero and save your hair... it will grow back! I also had the infection and had to be put on strong antibiotics.. it was my body rejecting the expander. Make sure you are under close supervision from your surgeon.

      over 3 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      Can't say anything to the breast infection since mine was endometrial. But on the hair thing... I usually used baby shampoo -- growing back now, so I'm using Nioxin, which is specifically for thinning hair. I did have a cap through a lot of the winter, but then the menopause symptoms started, since I had a complete hysterectomy. I'd get hot, the cap would go flying and then I'd get cold. I got a lightweight throw for my birthday, so what I'd do is put that over my pillow and wrap it around my head a bit. I get hot, I'd just open it up, but it'd be under my head, so it wouldn't go flying across the room. The throw was a good weight and didn't slip and slide like the cap did. Hope your infection goes away soon.

      over 3 years ago
    • Topazcat's Avatar

      I never shaved my head because my beautician said that would make it itch. When it started falling out, she cut it very short. I bought a sleep cap but was always too warm to wear it - even though it was winter. I used my regular shampoo and never had any sores or itching. When I was home I always went without a hat or cover. In public I usually wore a wig. It was not a big deal and I knew it would grow back again. In the entire scheme of things, losing my hair was not that important. Good luck to you!!

      over 3 years ago
    • mhc's Avatar

      Once my hair was all gone, I washed my hair with the same soap I used on my body. I found that my head got cold when I was sleeping because I, too, like the room cold. The American Cancer Society has a catalogue with hats, etc. for chemo. I bought a soft cap to sleep in. You will find lots of choices in the catalogue.

      over 3 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar

      Lots of interesting responses. #1. which I strongly agree with is getting the breast infection under control. Hair loss is nothing compared to that. #2 I was like Ydnar2xer. I couldn't deal with it falling out in sections so when it started to, we had a buzz off party with my husband, my two younger sons, a friend and her daughter who has shaved her head three times to generate funds for cancer research. We put it in pigtails and cut off the pigtails in case I decided to save it for a wig. Then my sons buzzed it off pretty short while my friend and her daughter held my hands. My husband took pictures which unbeknowst to me, my youngest son shared on some website--turns out it was a way for him to share with his friends who I have known since they were young about my cancer. It sort of helped me get over worrying about telling some people. My older two sons just smiled and said I looked pretty good with a buzz. Since they both buzz their hair, it was some sort of bonding experience.
      The morning before we did the buzz off party, a good friend came and styled my wig for me so I was good to go. The rest of my hair continued to fall out but because it was so short, it wasn't so dramatic of a change. My chemo was over the winter so the wig was good for keeping my head warm when I was out and about. At home, I wore some knit stocking caps made for me by another friend during the day and at night if needed. Once I was done with chemo and my hair started to grow back, sometimes I would put my flexible, programable heating pad set on low on my head while I sat in my chair or even when I slept at night. It felt good and I figured it would improve the circulation and maybe help my hair grow faster. Who knows--but be sure it is on low. Now that the weather has started to warm up, I've been sitting outside in the sun in hopes it would work like the grow lights in our green house.
      I will say that I really didn't like the bald look on me and didn't really like just a cap or scarf so I always wore my wig in public. My hair is now about 1/2 inch long and thick and fuzzy. I still wear my wig in public but around the house and my yard I go without it. I use a mild shampoo but don't even shampoo all that often. I have been using olive oil on my scalp and then brushing my scalp with a soft bristle baby's brush (leftover from when my sons ages 19-31 were babies--I am just a tad sentimental but it came in handy this time). One of the websites on hair growth talked about keeping the roots moist and said light olive oil works just as well as anything. I do have to keep a washable pillow cloth on the back of my recliner though so the oil doesn't get on it. I am anxious to go without the wig altogether and plan to dye my hair as soon as it is about 1 inch long--hopefully in just a couple more weeks. I have never had short hair since I was a baby so I am still having a little trouble adjusting to "the look." For some reason, going without my wig in public was just too stark of a reality for me in terms of it being the first thing people noticed since I have always had longer hair. Very few people even knew I had a wig so it sort of let me share my story in my own time frame.
      There is no right or wrong in what each of us chooses to do. I know people who have multiple wigs and trade off just because they like to. I have had other friends go bald (especially in the hot months) and just celebrate living. I admire them all for doing what makes them feel the best.

      over 3 years ago
    • Grandy's Avatar

      My doc suggested just using a bar of Dove soap for my head.
      I bought a silk pillowcase at Bed Bath and Beyond... Doesn't pull as much on my head stubble.

      over 3 years ago
    • Grandy's Avatar

      Oh, and as far as hats, I could ONLY use 100% cotton hats... Anything else is too warm and itchy. And I got zits on my head too from shaving. :( I had to get a script for my scalp.

      over 3 years ago
    • Marshah's Avatar

      After I lost my hair I just use regular my facial soap (dove) to wash my head. I used a cap when I slept. It makes you more comfortable if it is cool in the room. As far as the bedding is concerned-I never changed from what I was using before. Sorry but I never had a breast infection so I cannot help you in that area.
      Marsha 68, 7 year survivor of breast cancer with lumpectomy, chemo and radiation.

      over 3 years ago
    • jojosmom's Avatar

      Please be careful with the breast infection. I had a lumpectomy, chemo, radiation and then surgery again because of a breast infection. I was sunburnt from rad but my dr said it was ok 2 days before I went to ER with a 102 fever. I had 3 pus pockets of infection they surgically drained, now have 3 drains in my breast and on antibiotics for 3 weeks. No one said anything to me about the possibility of an infection.

      over 3 years ago
    • MarianneT's Avatar

      When my hair started to fall out I cut it very short. My Onc nurse told me not to shave as it can cause infections if any nicks. Once it fell out I used my regular soap in the shower. I already use a soap for sensitive skin so didn't need to change that. I had chemo in Winter in NYC so I purchased a few cotton caps to wear under my scarves or to wear around the the house or to bed if I was cold.

      over 3 years ago
    • ddkk3's Avatar

      I'm still on chemo but I couldn't bear to shave my head. I can certainly see why so many women do it, though. Every time I pull a clump of hair out, it's so depressing. My hair is mostly gone now and I use the same shampoo I always have, just way less! I also need to warm it up a bit under the water before putting it on my scalp because it's pretty cold! I no longer use conditioner. I was able to hide the bald spots pretty well for a long time (I'm 3 months into chemo) but just recently I couldn't anymore. I just go out in baseball caps.

      I also really hope you've called your doctor about the infection! Best wishes.

      over 3 years ago

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