Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Ongoing Follicular Indignities of Cancer

I mentioned a while ago that one of the effects of the chemo leaving my system was hair regrowth all over.

This included a scary surge in the white-blonde soft downy hair on my jaw line and cheeks. My post on this was, appropriately titled, Bearded Lady.

Well, it hasn't gone away yet. In certain lights I catch myself looking very fluffy round the edges.

Some people have advised me that they suffered the same side-effect during recovery from chemo and that it simply went away. Most can't even remember when their cheeks and jaws returned to normal, they just know they did.

A little tactical googling has revealed, slightly disturbingly, that some post-chemo patients have taken to shaving it off. Some report that all it needs it one shave or wax and the hair doesn't come back.

But everyone who's ever been a woman knows the golden rule when it comes to body hair, from years experience painfully clocked up through the teenage years and beyond.

Shaving body hair will only result in regrowth that certainly appears to be even fiercer and thicker than before.

I wasn't about to shave my face, for goodness sake!

But I was interested in whether or not this was a recognised medical side-effect, or if it's some sort of collective hysterical reaction to otherwise normal hair regrowth that all of us post-chemo patients are experiencing. And I found more information on a breast cancer discussion forum.

The medical term for the type of hair is lanugo, and it is more commonly seen as the hair that often covers the head, neck and shoulders of a new born baby. It is the first hair to be produced by the fetal hair follicles and is fine, soft, and usually without pigment. Thank God. It normally appears first when in the womb. It is usually shed before birth but some babies are born with it and do not lose it for as long as a few months.

It's also seen on anorexics, as a compensation for body fat.

And, it seems, it is also prevalent on post-chemo patients as the follicular response to regrowth after the battering their hair follicles have recently taken.

So, just call me Baby-Face Weeden from now on...


Marie said...

Bad news. The duck fuzz increases with age.

HelĂ´ said...

Yes, the follicles revenge!
And oh, btw, you do deserve compliments!
Keep strong!
big hug