Can Chemotherapy for Multiple Sclerosis Cause Hair Loss?

Posted by Sarah

In this article: Hair Loss | Women's Hair Loss

When you hear the word 'chemotherapy', it's likely the first thing you'll think of is cancer. However, chemo is also used to treat other conditions.

One of these is Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a chronic and often progressive autoimmune disorder that affects the nerves and spinal chord. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, lack of balance, an inability to walk and muscle spasms.

This condition has been receiving more news coverage lately after the actress Selma Blair (pictured) was diagnosed with the condition aged 46. She quickly started posting regular updates about her MS battle on Instagram.

Selma Blair MS bald

A topic she recently covered was the hair loss she has experienced, sharing images of both her young son helping her to cut her hair off, and her bald head after shaving it.

Chemo used to help slow down MS

According to the UK's Multiple Sclerosis Trust, "In MS the immune system attacks the myelin sheath around the nerves of the central nervous system. Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill white blood cells, which are part of this attack. This may slow down or stop disease activity in MS."

Before starting her latest round of treatment for MS, which has involved "chemotherapy and high doses of prednisone" Blair took the proactive step of shaving her head, therefore, it is unlikely she would have used one of the key hair loss prevention devices offered to cancer patients undergoing chemo.

These are known as scalp cooling systems or 'cold caps' and were based on the technology used in beer coolers. They work by users wearing a helmet-like device - the cold cap - which is plugged in to the system, during chemotherapy sessions. This chills the scalp to extremely low temperatures - so low that ice can form on the helmet - in order to deter blood flow, and therefore the chemo drugs carried in the bloodstream, from reaching the hair follicles.

Although some people initially found this therapy somewhat painful or uncomfortable, the makers of these innovative hairloss solutions - such as British company Paxman - have increasingly refined the design of their FDA-cleared products in order to make them as tolerable and comfortable as possible.

Cold caps are very much in demand and often have to be specifically requested by cancer patients; whether or not they are made available without request for MS patients being treated with chemotherapy is unknown. We have requested a comment on this from the CEO of Paxman, Richard Paxman, but had not had a response by the time of publication; any update will be added to this post.

When people do lose their hair to chemotherapy treatment, it will generally regrow naturally within 12 months of their last session, however, sometimes it can have a different texture, at least initially.

Selma Blair remaining positive

As part of her MS treatment plan, Selma Blair has tried body contouring, a spa treatment offered at Los Angeles' retreat Bungalow 3, to help with the effects of chemotherapy. In an Instagram post from 7th August 2019 she explained: "There are so many toxins in my body from chemotherapy etc and I need an extra boost to start working them out…".

Although she says she does not mind being bald, she admits "if my eyebrows totally fall out, I am gonna be singing a different tune".

Thanks to the support of her family, friends such as Cruel Intentions co-star, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and the Alinker mobility vehicle she credits with helping her to get around even though her ability to walk has been severely compromised, Blair is fighting hard and remaining positive.

She says she is determined to "live joyfully" and hopes her openness helps others in similar situations to feel less alone.

"I won't let this disease stop me," she told People magazine.

Copy of New Street Ground Floor Reception 1 no pink nail polish

The Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.

View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.

Posted by Sarah

In this article: Hair Loss | Women's Hair Loss

Related posts