How to Choose and Wear a Wig as a Cancer Patient

August 06, 2021
How to Choose and Wear a Wig as a Cancer Patient

One of the side effects of cancer treatment for cancer is a loss of hair and in fact, many cancer patients preemptively shave their heads to avoid the angst that often accompanies it. Even if chemotherapy is no longer needed it can take a few months for the hair to start growing again and because of this, many cancer patients find that it helps their self image to invest in wigs. We’ll give a quick guide to cancer wigs, and where you can get one. 

Quick note: Not all cancer treatments involve hair loss, so check with a medical professional before going through the steps we outline below.

What Wigs Can Do For Cancer Patients

Wigs for cancer patients can provide a sense of normalcy. The physical effects of cancer are severe, but so are the psychological effects. Many wigs are indistinguishable from regular hair - some even use real human hair in their manufacturing. Being able to maintain a sense of continuity with a previously normal life can help combat cancer-related depression. 

A wig doesn’t just need to be a return to the status quo, however. Wigs can replace the problem of hair loss with an opportunity for fun. A wig can provide whole new hair colors and styles and if a cancer patient gets multiple wigs, they can match their wigs to their mood or wardrobe as needed. 

How To Choose a Wig

Choosing good wigs for cancer patients can often be an emotionally-challenging process.  Options exist for men and women, in all different colors, styles, and sizes. No matter what feels right to you, the following tips can be used by anyone considering their options for hair replacement.

Take a Reference Picture: It is a good idea to shave or shorten your hair before going into chemotherapy - this is easier and less stressful than waiting for hair to fall out. Before you shave, make sure to get a picture - this can help serve as a reference for your old hairstyle if you want to replicate it.

Measure: The next step is measuring the circumference of your head. This is a very useful measurement to have when you start shopping for wigs, as you can find one that has a perfect fit. Wigs that are too tight or too loose will look unnatural when worn. They will also feel less comfortable. If it feels too emotionally-charged to go through this process alone, there are wig shops like Wig Fairy who will do the measurements for you. 

Old or New?: Your next choice is to decide what kind of hairstyle and color you want in your wig. You can use your reference picture to try and match it as closely to your old haircut, or you can try something totally different. If you’re uncertain, remember that you can always get multiple wigs. You could get a radically different wig, and one close to your old style if it doesn’t work out.

Lighten the Colors: Once you’ve selected colors you like, it can be beneficial to adjust them to be slightly lighter. The reason for this is that cancer treatments often leave you with slightly paler skin tones. By adjusting your hair color to match, you can reduce the sudden contrast.

Pick the Material: The majority of wigs are made out of real human hair or synthetic fiber. Real human hair wigs have the benefit of being able to be washed and styled just like your old haircut. However, they tend to be much more expensive, running upwards of $1000. Affordable wigs for cancer patients tend to be made out of synthetic material. These materials can look and feel quite realistic while needing less maintenance, and normally cost under $500. 

Where To Get a Wig

Once you’ve decided what kind of wig to get, where can you get one? Some of the best wigs for cancer patients can, of course, be found at a professional wig shop. The owners of the store will likely have plenty of hats and wigs for cancer patients in their stock and have served other cancer patients in the past. You can also shop at many of these stores online, adding an extra level of convenience. Many charity organizations are dedicated to providing hats and wigs for cancer patients. 

Online, one of our favorite wig stores is a Beverly Hills-based establishment called The Wig Fairy.  Through their Brave Program, they help men and women with cancer and other related forms of hair loss regain their sense of self and oftentimes get a whole new style. They offer virtual consultations and customizations that help patients find a wig that will not irritate their skin or create further damage. 

If you’d rather support a local business, most major cities have local wig shops that you can visit.  Patient coordinators at your local hospital or cancer center will usually have a list of the most popular local shops in your area.

Covering the Cost of a Wig 

Some people hesitate to buy wigs because of the worry about the cost of wigs for cancer patients and the many factors that contribute to it. Does Medicare cover wigs for cancer patients? Does insurance cover wigs for cancer patients? Are wigs tax-deductible under Medicare?

You should always ask your doctor for the most up-to-date information, but at the time of this publication Medicare does not cover wigs for cancer patients; however, wigs purchased for alopecia or treatment-related hair loss are tax-deductible at year’s end. Many insurance plans do cover wigs as well, so be sure to consult with your insurance provider.

Learn More About Wigs For Cancer Patients 

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