Coping emotionally with hair loss

Many people see their hair as part of their identity. It can be very upsetting if your hair falls out during cancer treatment.

Family and friends may notice the changes to your hair. This might make you feel vulnerable and less confident. If hair has a special significance in your culture, you may find it more difficult to deal with.

Most people find they can talk to family and friends about their hair loss. Other people find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know. You can talk to one of our cancer support specialists or a counsellor. You may want to try joining an online community or support group at your hospital.

Children may not be worried by their hair loss. However there are wigs and headwear options for children. If you are a teenager, changes to your appearance can be very upsetting. There are lots of natural-looking wigs that you could try. The Teenage Cancer Trust offers young people a free human-hair wig. They can also put you in touch with other teenagers who have cancer.

Emotional support to cope with hair loss

People’s first question when they are told they have cancer is often, ‘Will I lose my hair?’. Our hair may be an important part of our appearance and identity. It may be a way we express our personality. Often, when our hair looks good, we feel good.

Many people find losing their hair upsetting. You may feel uncomfortable about socialising with your different appearance and worry about how it will affect relationships with family and friends. In some cultures, hair is seen as a symbol of fertility and desirability, or a sign of health and status. If hair has a special significance for your culture, it can be even more difficult to adjust to losing it.

The pages in this section have suggestions to help both men and women cope with losing their hair and managing their new appearance.

You may find our information on body image and cancer helpful. It explains how cancer can affect your body and the way you see it, and suggests ways of dealing with those thoughts and feelings.

‘Finding out I was going to lose my hair was a really big deal. It was more upsetting than the cancer, because to me my hair was my crowning glory.’ Bengu


Your feelings

People can have different feelings about losing their hair. Some people may feel low in confidence, anxious or depressed. Others may feel angry that their hair loss is a visible reminder of their cancer – for themselves and others.

Many people with hair loss feel vulnerable and exposed. Even more so if their eyebrows, eyelashes, beard or moustache and pubic hair fall out.

You may also feel you have to tell people about your cancer diagnosis when you do not want to. For some people, losing their hair is one of the hardest parts of having treatment and the final straw. For others, it isn’t as bad as they expected.

All these different feelings are completely normal. You may want to read our information about dealing with your emotions.

Other people’s reactions

Today, cancer is much more talked about than a few years ago. People are more aware of the effects of cancer treatment on hair. It is more openly discussed and accepted. But sometimes family and friends may be upset by your hair loss and find it hard not to show this. This can be difficult for you to deal with. Try to remember they are usually concerned for you and may not know how to react.

Only you can decide whether to tell people you have cancer. But you shouldn’t feel under pressure to tell people you don’t want to.

‘My husband was very sad when he lost his hair as he had a good head of hair despite being 70’. Christine


Talking about your hair loss

Most people find that their family and friends are very supportive, and that it can help to talk through their feelings about losing their hair. But it may take a while for you to come to terms with your hair loss, to talk with others and deal with their reactions.

At the hospital, you’ll probably meet other people who’ve had hair loss, who can give advice and tips on how they’ve coped.

You can also meet people at cancer support groups.

Some people find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know. You can talk to our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 if you’re finding it hard to cope with hair loss or other aspects of your cancer and its treatment. They can also give you information about counselling and how to contact a counsellor in your area.

You can also visit our Online Community. There you can chat with other people who have hair loss, or just read through the posts or blogs other people have written.

We have more information on talking about your cancer, with practical advice on how to talk to people close to you.

Children and teenagers

Many children aren’t worried by their hair loss and may be proud of their bald heads. However, if they do want to cover up, there are wigs available for children. There are also hats, caps, scarves or bandanas that they can wear. If a child needs treatment from time to time over a few years, they will probably need a new wig each time while their head is still growing.

If you’re a teenager, having a change in your appearance can be very upsetting. There are many natural-looking wigs and other ways to cover hair loss. If you’d like to speak to other teenagers with cancer, you can contact The Teenage Cancer Trust. It also offers young people with cancer the opportunity to choose a free human-hair wig and have it styled at a salon.

There are also websites for teenagers with cancer. Some of these have chat rooms where you can talk about your feelings with other teenagers.

We can send you a booklet called The cancer guide for young people. It is aimed at people aged 12 to 25 who are living with cancer.

Back to Dealing with hair loss


Wigs and hairpieces can help you cope with hair loss. There are lots of types of wigs and hairpieces available.

Tips for wearing your wig

Lots of people worry about wearing a wig. There are ways to make sure the wig stays in place and to keep you comfortable

Hair experts

TONI & GUY and mynewhair salons provide specialist hair care and advice for people affected by cancer.