Hit me with your favorite chemo head gear
February 14, 2016 3:20 PM   Subscribe

The hair and I are parting ways. It’s freaking cold outside. The chemo will probably go on through spring-early summer, so I'll need some lighter stuff as well. I’d like to try and hide the hair loss as long as possible, if that is possible. I have looked at a lot of hats online already, but would like some recommendations as to what worked best for you.

There are actually a bewildering number of hats and scarves online, so special snowflake requirements below. I’ve also already looked at the previous ask-me’s on this topic – most of the links are dead at this point.

• There are tons of beautiful turbans and scarves out there, but many of them appear to require you to take a master class in tying them. Most of my shoes have Velcro. I’d like to avoid anything that requires me to get tired and frustrated in the morning figuring out how to put them on, but I’d be happy with some cool or lovely pre-tied head covers.

• It’s really really cold out there right now here in Massachusetts, yet despite this, I can’t stand anything with even the slightest hint of wool in it. If I can’t handle it in the form of socks or sweaters, I definitely won’t be okay with it on my bald head.

• I’m going to cut my hair very short right before chemo starts, in the hopes that it might just thin out (but I really have no idea about how it will go) and that I might be able to look sort of normal-ish with headbands and half covers when I’m at work, at least for a while. Is this even feasible? The people at my workplace who are sharp have already figured out what is wrong. The ones who haven’t, I’d prefer not to deal with for as long as possible.

• I really am not interested in wigs. (Okay, I’d actually love a blue wig, but I can’t get away with that at work, so no wigs).

Bonus Question! If you had chemo, did you use a sleep cap? Did you need it cause your head was freezing?
posted by instead of three wishes to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I got thru 2 treatments spaced 6 weeks apart before my hair came out, so you may not have to rush. When it came out, though, it was fast, so be ready. I wish now I had cut it sooner, because having handfuls come out in the shower was one of the worst things I experienced.

I went with just normal winter knit caps like Carhartt makes, as well as random cute ones from Target, etc that were lighter and got me clear to summer when I switched to ball caps. There were baskets of nice knit caps at my chemo place, knitted by kind volunteers and free for the taking. I took one each time. (If you're a knitter who does this, thank you so much)

I felt like scarves and turbans that I tried telegraphed "CANCER" in a way that hats didn't, so I never ended up wearing them.

I got two wigs, neither all that expensive. It helped me feel normal on days I just wanted to go get groceries and not have anyone smile sadly at me. Your doctors will give you a prescription for a nice one if you want. My insurance covered it.

I slept in a hat every night. I had trouble staying warm otherwise. I used the same ones I wore during the day.

Best of luck to you. Feel free to memail me if you have any questions about anything.
posted by donnagirl at 3:47 PM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I used buffs a lot. Definitely needed a hat to sleep in and for hanging around the house, but we keep it quite cold. For scarves my ninja trick was to tie them up using hair elastics; just gather at the nape of the neck and swirl like you are putting your hair up in a bun. Wrap the elastic around and you're good. I tried a pre-tied one but apparently I have a giant head and it kept sliding up and off.

Best wishes for treatment.
posted by five_cents at 4:19 PM on February 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Turban hats. Twist turbans. Berets and cloches. These are all one piece, so no fussing, twisting or tying needed. My friend has one of the turban hats (and no hair loss) and you can't see her hair but it doesn't scream "cancer!" I'm sure you can find similar ones where you live if they're of interest.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:29 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have alopecia, so I wear wigs and hats. I like the selection at http://www.hatsscarvesandmore.com. They have many pre-tied scarves and turbans. (I wear wigs during the fall/winter/spring. Hats mostly during the summer. I live in Georgia, where it's just too dang hot.)
posted by heathrowga at 4:58 PM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sent you an email (hope that's okay).
posted by jrobin276 at 6:00 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

For warmth, what about a knit hat that is lined with fleece to keep it from being itchy?
posted by Shadow Boxer at 6:54 PM on February 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I have trichotillomania, so while I have never experienced chemo, I have been dealing with hair loss and being a bald woman for about 15 years. Hopefully I can help in some ways even if my experiences are really different!

Buffs are great, particularly for sleeping in. They're super versatile, and a bald head gets cold at night. Otherwise, fleece feels very nice on bald. Floppy tuque/beanie style hats can offer the illusion that you have more hair than you do depending on how you style what you've got. Hats that suit your colouring well will stand out less.

Why not get yourself a blue wig for when you're not at work? I'm a regular wig wearer and I switch between an edgy blue wig and a tamer brown one (I keep it consistent for work, but otherwise switch around). The blue wig was not at all expensive ($20-30ish) and it makes me really happy to be able to have great hair in spite of... not actually having hair. It gets so many compliments. A frivolous wig could be worth it if it makes you feel better, even if you're not wearing it every day.

Wishing you all the best.
posted by bibliotropic at 12:24 AM on February 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

My mom had two different wigs, but she swore by this hat (Turtle Fur midweight fleece) when she didn't want to deal with it. (BTW, she got her wigs free from the American Cancer Society - they were made as part of the Pantene Beautiful Lengths hair donation program.)
posted by candyland at 3:00 PM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm currently getting chemo, and I am full of opinions about headcoverings.

I have found scarves to not be hard to tie at all. I thought they looked really complicated, but it turns out not so much. Square scarves I fold into a triangle and tie like a babushka. Oblong scarves I twist into a rosette at the nape of my neck. I bought scarves from Headcovers Unlimited. They have a ton of options for pre-tied things and hats as well. I bought a scarf pad to wear under the scarves, and it makes them look nicer, keeps them cleaner, and keeps my head warmer.

Chemo Beanies are another option. I have one of these, but don't wear it. I just don't like the way I look in it. Better for warm weather.

Someone gave me a crocheted beanie with a fleece lining right before I started chemo, so I wear that when it is cold. Fleece is probably your best option if you are wool-sensitive.

My hair didn't start falling out until after the second round (I'm on 6 rounds of taxotere and carboplatin, spaced three weeks apart). I cut it short right around the second round. I had my new short haircut for about a week before it started falling out. I noticed my part getting larger, and then right before the third round I started getting large bald patches on top and in front, and buzzed it.

You should be able to get a sense from your doctor or by googling how likely it is that you'll lose all your hair or just some. One of my chemo agents is notorious for total hair loss so I prepared for that, but that's not true of all chemo agents.

I was also Not Interested in wigs before I started chemo. I was encouraged to get a wig just in case, and I'm really glad I did. Now I have two, and I wear them a lot. They are very realistic-looking, not uncomfortable, and sometimes it is just nice to look kind of normal. They are both synthetic, $300-400, and insurance paid for one of them. I wear a mix of wigs and scarves to work.

I have four of these slouchy beanies to sleep in. They are comfortable and hilarious, and when everything gets to be too much you can pull them all the way down over your face to hide. My head wasn't freezing, but I liked the way wearing the hat felt, PLUS when your hair is actively falling out it can fall into the hat instead of your sheets and blankets.

Bonus bonus: Blue wig, $20. I have this wig in another color. It is definitely not as nice as my "good" wigs, but pretty good for $20.
posted by jeoc at 4:52 PM on February 16, 2016

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