Can Radiotherapy Make Your Hair Fall Out?

radiotherapy and hair loss

Although people often talk about baldness caused by cancer therapy, most of these conversations are related to chemotherapy. However, one other cancer treatment can also have serious implications for our hair health – radiation therapy. In fact, radiation therapy can even cause more severe hair loss than chemotherapy.

In this article, we will be exploring the link between radiotherapy and hair loss.

Radiotherapy and Hair Loss

Radiation therapy causes hair loss by killing hair follicles. However, unlike hair loss caused by chemo, hair loss caused by radiotherapy can be permanent. Radiotherapy patients also can’t use cold caps which are often used by chemo patients to treat hair loss.

The type of baldness caused by radiotherapy is called cicatricial alopecia, and it happens when our hair follicles stop functioning. The dead follicles then get replaced with scar tissue, and the hair never returns. This condition is a common side effect of head or neck radiotherapy. If hair follicles haven’t been completely disintegrated, it may take a couple of hair growth cycles for it to grow back.

Dealing with Hair Loss Caused by Radiotherapy

It can be hard to deal with hair loss due to radiotherapy, but you can use some coping techniques to make it easier. Here are some things you can do.

  • Cut your hair – before starting radiotherapy; you can cut your hair as short as possible. That will help you get used to the look.
  • Treat it gently – during therapy, wash your hair gently, so you don’t make the area sore.
  • Cover it – you might want to wear a scarf or a soft hat to keep your head warm and protect your skin.


Since radiotherapy and hair loss often go hand-in-hand, it’s crucial to be prepared for this scenario. Try some of our tips above and make sure you talk to your doctor about the potential side effects of your cancer therapy.