Sarah Cannon - August 17, 2020

Cancer is a life-changing journey that affects patients and their loved ones emotionally and physically. Some patients may experience side effects from treatments that can alter their physical appearance. Here are a few simple ways to help you cope with some of the most common appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment:

  • Hair: Use gentle shampoos and conditioners without harsh chemicals like salicylic acid. Put off hair coloring, perms, and other chemical procedures until treatment is over. Try air drying your hair to avoid heat damage, and ask your hairstylist for tips on handling thinning hair or styling hair as it grows back. Keep a lock of your hair in case you later want to buy a wig that matches your natural color.
  • Eyelashes and eyebrows: Eyeliners and soft eye shadows can disguise thinning lashes. Use a brow pencil in a shade similar to your hair color to fill in thinning eyebrows.
  • Skin: Avoid products with fragrance, alcohol, and oil. Use lukewarm water and mild cleansers to wash up. Pat skin dry instead of rubbing, and apply moisturizer for hydration.
  • Nails: Avoid polish with formaldehyde, and skip removers with harsh chemicals, like acetate. Try oil-based removers instead.
  • A little help from friends: Many charitable organizations provide support, services, and even products like wigs to help patients with cancer handle the appearance-related side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

If you have questions about side effects of treatment or want to get connected to support services in your community, call askSARAH at (844) 482-4812, a dedicated phone line where nurses answer your cancer questions.