Side Effect: Wigs that Cause Hot, Itchy Scalp—Tips to Increase Comfort
If you’ve lost your hair due to chemotherapy treatments, you may have gotten a wig to get you through until your treatments are over and your hair grows back again. Wigs help us feel confident, beautiful and “normal” as we fight cancer, but they can also be difficult to wear.
“I kept lifting the forehead to scratch,” says survivor cebula.
“I can’t advise on wigs,” says survivor lo_mcg, “because I found wearing a wig hot, itchy, and uncomfortable.”
Caregiver saurus3118 agrees. “My mom did not like her wig…said it was hot and itchy. Her scalp was somewhat tender anyway.”
If you’re experiencing some uncomfortable sensations when wearing your wig, don’t despair. There are a few things you can do to make it better.
Choose a quality wig.Some people get into trouble when they try to save money. Low-quality wigs are more likely to itch and feel uncomfortable. You’re going to be wearing it for a few months at least, so don’t skimp on cost. (Your insurance may cover it—check our post for more information.) Take your time and find a quality wig that feels good. Some survivors recommend synthetic hair over real human hair, saying it washes easier and stays comfortable longer.
Rinse thoroughly. Remember those days when your real hair went limp because either a) you didn’t rinse it well enough, or b) it had too much product buildup? The same thing can happen to your wig, so after washing, be sure to rinse thoroughly. Any leftover shampoo or conditioner residue can cause scalp irritation.
Plan a refresher. If you’re going to wear the wig all day, or at least for a few hours, plan to refresh your scalp several times. Take along some organic witch-hazel (try Thayer’s alcohol-free unscented brand) and every so often, steal into a private place, remove the wig, wet a towel, cloth or cotton pad with the witch hazel, and pass it over your scalp. It will help remove oil buildup and make you more comfortable. You may also want to take along a small bottle of your gentle, non-toxic face moisturizer or your cooling, spray toner to apply to your scalp afterwards. We love the organic soothing gel by Dr. Alkaitis and the Aloe Vera Cooling Spray by SantaVerde to soothe sensitive skin on your face and scalp.
Consider a cotton liner. A 100% cotton liner can be worn under your wig, which will help absorb moisture and heat, making your head feel more comfortable. You can get them at almost any wig shop, or go online. A Jon Renau brand, for example, sells for only $5.99 at aaa-medical-wigs.com, or you can get one from Friends Boutique for $5.00. You can also send the wig back to the manufacturer and ask for a silk lining, which according to hairstyling expert Kimberly Belk, is the most comfortable.
Carefully care for your wig. As your wig suffers wear and tear, strands of hair can come back through the base, which can also cause itching. You can help reduce this tendency by always caring for your wig according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and by brushing and combing carefully.
Use zinc lotion for skin irritations. If you notice bumps, redness, and irritation on your scalp after wearing your wig, you may want to try an organic zinc lotion. Zinc is a natural antibacterial and can help prevent infections and irritations. Try Yin Yang Organic Skin Care’s Scalp Cream.
Do you have tips for making wigs more comfortable? Please share.
Photo courtesy dreamyourealive via Flickr.com.