Wigs & Turbans. Criteria and Options
There are, today, many options for head covers if you’re coping with hair loss due to chemotherapy. Hair loss can be a stressful experience, and many people do not realize how much their image is tied to their hair until they face its loss. Thankfully, if you wish to cover your head before your own (often more delightful) head of hair grows back, there are many options available. Some people even look back at the adventure of trying new head covers and styles fondly! The best time to shop for head covers is before you start to lose your hair.
Head Cover Options
Several types of wigs and hairpieces are available depending on our budget and individual preference. Options include:
- Real hair wigs: Wigs made from real hair can look very natural, but are pricier and more difficult to care for. Real hair can be managed much as your own hair and allows for changes in style such as curling and even coloring.
- Synthetic hair wigs:Synthetic hair is less expensive and is preferred by many, especially those who wish to have a few wigs on hand.
It is often recommended that we choose a wig in a similar or slightly lighter color than we are accustomed to.
Hats, Caps, Scarves, and Turbans
Caps, scarves, and turbans are becoming more popular as a head covering during chemotherapy. A wide variety of products are available. These can be more comfortable, especially in the summer and warmer climates, and allow for more diversity day-to-day. They are also less itchy, easier to care for, and less expensive so that we can purchase a variety of products.
Bald Is Beautiful
Some people prefer to go natural and skip head covers altogether. This can be a very comfortable option, especially in warm weather. If we go this route, we make sure to protect our head from the sun and cold weather, as significant heat loss occurs through the head.
Tips to cope with hair loss
Many survivors have shared tips on chemotherapy-induced hair loss and head covers that may reduce some of the sadness and add energy to our life at a time when cancer fatigue often reigns. Some of these include:
Make It Fun
While cancer is a serious disease, and none of us would choose to have our hair fall out, there are times for humor and joy. Many people choose to shave their head when hair loss becomes steady, and doing so sometimes avoids clogged drains. One woman had her teenage son shave her head but leave a Mohawk. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, there are many styles available online. Another woman had her daughter shave her head, but then apply temporary tattoos to most of her scalp. They went to a nearby mall and her daughter videotaped people’s reactions to her mother.
In contrast, some people prefer to watch their hair fall out piece by piece, visualizing the chemotherapy doing its job on cancer with each strand. There are many more ideas, and brainstorming options with a good friend can be a joyful experience as well.
Don’t Go It Alone
From choosing head coverings to shaving our head if you do so, sharing the experience with another not only reduces the distress, but can also turn a sad and frightening time into a moment of joy. When choosing people to share the experience, we think of friends who are comfortable with change and illness. Often, people who have experienced cancer themselves or through another loved one can recognize the need for joy and humor and understand that a person can be joyful and sad at the same time. In fact, learning to live in contradiction in this way may have longstanding benefits to our life after your infusions are done.
Some women have reframed their distress at losing hair on their head by enjoying the fact they won’t need to shave their legs for many months. Others have joked about how losing their hair has saved them money on shampoo or trips to the stylist. It may be of some comfort to hear that while cancer leaves us with many side effects, researchers are learning that people who must cope with cancer experience positive changes as well. In other words, living with cancer can change people for the better.
Cost and Insurance Coverage
The costs of head covers can vary tremendously, depending on whether you go for an inexpensive scarf, or would rather have a natural wig (or both).
Insurance companies often cover a portion or all the cost of a wig (but not other types of hair covers). In order for a wig to be covered, however, we will need to have our oncologist write out a prescription for a “hair prosthesis” rather than a wig.
There are many organizations that provide free or lost cost head covers. We should not be afraid to accept these offerings. After all, cancer is expensive. When we are through with chemotherapy, we may wish to donate our hair covers to someone else. When our beautiful hair grows back, we may even wish to donate hair.