Women and hair loss: coping tips

Alopecia
Alopecia

Losing your crowning glory can be particularly difficult for women. But there are ways to cope.

Losing your hair as a woman, especially if you’re young or at a vulnerable time in your life, can badly affect your confidence.

Jackie McKillop, Alopecia UK spokesperson and junior nursing sister at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, says society considers hair to be an important part of how you look:

“For women, there is a social stigma attached to going bald,” she says. “Hair loss can affect your sensuality and how you perceive yourself. There are usually emotional trials and tribulations when it happens.

“Some women question whether their partner will still love them. I’ve known others become socially reclusive and give up enjoyable activities like swimming and going to the gym, because they can’t bear using the communal changing rooms for fear of their hair loss being discovered.”

Hair loss, known medically as alopecia, is common. It’s estimated, for instance, that around 50% of women over the age of 65 experience female-pattern baldness – the most common type of hair loss, which is thought to be inherited.

Different types of hair loss

There are lots of different types of hair loss. It can take the form of “thinning” or involve a total loss of hair. It can be gradual or sudden; it can affect the old and the young.

Hair loss can be genetic, or as a result of extreme stress, a medical condition or treatment.

Hair loss is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy, and around 50% of women lose more hair than usual after they’ve given birth.

Hair loss treatments

Jackie McKillop, who has herself lost all her hair, says it can help to address the physical aspects of hair loss. Try to find out everything you can about hair loss and the treatment options available to you.

A proven treatment for female-pattern baldness is a hair lotion containing minoxidil. After using it, most women see improvements, including a slowing or stopping altogether of balding, as well as thicker hair. Up to 25% of women experience hair regrowth while using it.

Always contact your GP or dermatologist for advice before starting or finishing any treatments or medication for alopecia.

Find out about hair loss treatments that work.

Ways to cope with hair loss

It’s also important to address the psychological impact of hair loss. If you’ve lost your hair, even temporarily, life will be easier if you can accept what’s happened and learn to live with your altered appearance.

“How well you cope with looking at yourself in the mirror depends on your coping strategies, personality, self-esteem and the support around you,” says Jackie. “It’s really important to try to promote positivity in your life.”

Here are some useful self-help tips:

Share stories: It helps to know you’re not alone. Watch this video of a woman’s personal experience of alopecia, read this real-life story of Michelle Chapman who was diagnosed with alopecia when she was five. Read the comments at the end of this article to see how others cope.

Join a support group: There are groups around the country where you can meet and socialise with other people with alopecia. Find your nearest Alopecia UK support group.

Go online: If you prefer to go online to talk to others, join Alopecia UK’s discussion forum.

Accept it: It’s not easy, but try to come to terms with your hair loss. One way to do this is to make a list of all your good qualities and focus your energy on celebrating these attributes.

Talk about it: Discuss your hair loss with your friends, family and loved ones, preferably early on. Let them know how you feel about it and what kind of support you need. If hair loss is affecting your relationship with your partner, going to therapy or couples counselling may help.

Cover up: Look into disguising and covering up your hair loss with things like wigs, hair extensions, scarves and make-up. Persevere until you find a product and style that suits you. “Equally, you may prefer not to cover up at all. Whatever works best for you,” says Jackie.

If you have hair loss that you find difficult to cover up (around 50% hair loss or more), or your hair loss is a result of cancer treatment, you could be eligible for a wig on the NHS. Find out about NHS wigs.

Be patient: many cases of hair loss in women are temporary. That said, regrowth is unpredictable and can take years. Remember that your new hair can be any texture and colour.

Avoid miracle cures: don’t be taken in by claims for wonder products. There are no cures for female hair loss.

“There are lots of snakeoil products out there. Usually the greater the claim, the greater the letdown,” says Jackie McKillop. Her advice is to stick to products recommended in the British Association of Dermatologists’ clinical guidelines (PDF, 85kb).

You can read more articles on all aspects of hair loss, including the different types, its diagnosis and treatment.

Do breast cancer treatments affect cognitive functioning?

Breast cancer screening
Breast cancer screening

Breast cancer is indeed a biggest threat for the women. It was scarier in the past but with the passage of time things have been improved yet there is need to conduct more researches in order to improve the situation. Breast cancer screening is the first step to start with. This start makes so many things clear and gives a way to follow. This way is actually the phase where one has to go through several treatments once diagnosed with breast cancer.


Unfortunately some of the treatments have side effects as well. Side effects are though not an enigma but obviously one has to be careful about all the related things. Certainly experts are working on it to lessen the harmful effects of the prescribed treatments not only with regards to breast cancer but also the other diseases.

Side effects of chemotherapy for breast cancer…

Several treatments have different side effects. They vary from each other with regards to the procedure as well as the patient. It is said that chemotherapy effects the cognitive functioning of the patient. Researches are working to find out what exactly causes this and which parts of the brain are getting affected by the said treatment. Like breast cancer screening, doctors have done screening of the brains as well of those patients who are going through the chemotherapy for their breast cancer.

It was very much evident that the functioning of the brain which is related to the planning, attention and memory seemed fragile in the patients who were undergoing the chemotherapy than those who have not gone through the same procedure.

Accumulating the findings…

These findings regarding the side effects of chemotherapy will further help out to find out the ways to reduce the side effects of this particular treatment. It has also confirmed the complaints registered by many women regarding their cognitive functioning. It has also emphasized to realize this matter seriously and to work together to solve the issue.

Shelli Kesler who is the head of this study says, “There has been a controversy whether it’s the disease itself or hormonal blockade medications or chemotherapy”.

This particular disorder is actually the “chemo brain” which is commonly noticed in the patients with chemotherapy treatment. There were several women included in this experiment and those who didn’t have any chemotherapy have shown combatively better memory condition and functioning. It was also observed that issues related with the memory are also linked with the person’s own ability. Here the importance of breast cancer screening becomes more essential.




Reasons behind the cognitive disorder…

Several reasons or causes have been presented like,

  1. Chemotherapy being a toxic for the brain’
  2. This procedure may cause inflammation to the brain
  3. This treatment is also linked with some damage to DNA

This is not only the chemotherapy but hormonal therapy is also said to has some side effects for the brain functioning. So it’s not just the chemotherapy.

Shelli Kesler says, People sometimes think women are exaggerating [chemo brain] but this study showed that self-reported impairment actually correlates with brain impairment pointing to the fact that they should not be ignored”.

The real thing is to work together to lessen the side effects by eliminating the dangerous and problem creating elements in the said treatments as we have to proceed with these treatments if diagnosed with the breast cancer.

Author Bio :

Jasmine William an enthusiastic writer and a researcher who tend to follow a path which leads her to the road of wellness. She also wants others to follow the same roads. Health, wellbeing and breast cancer are particularity the topics she prefer to write on. She always uses her pen to write the authentic and informative stuff. You can follow her on  twitter

 

Using Essential Oils to Treat Neuropathy

Using Essential Oils to Treat Neuropathy

essential oils for neuropathyAs neuropathy is damage to the nerves throughout the body (other than in the brain or spine), it is clear that the signs and symptoms of this type of nerve damage have to do with losing feeling or developing tingling sensations. For instance, a pins-and-needles feeling may develop over time, beginning in the extremities and then spreading further into the body.

Various causes exist for neuropathy, including diseases and conditions which cause the degradation of the nervous system. Some of this damage may be caused by certain illnesses such as tumors, diabetes, alcoholism, Vitamin B12 deficiency, pain killer abuse, or exposure to harmful chemicals or substances. Sometimes chemotherapy, used to fight cancer, can cause neuropathy as a side effect. Although some nerve damage is permanent, not all of it is and there are options for natural healing of neuropathy with essential oils.

Neuropathy Symptoms

While numbness and tingling are the main symptoms of neuropathy, there are several other signs that your body may be experiencing nerve damage. These include:

  • Sharp prickling pain with pins-and-needles
  • Digestive issues
  • Pain that feels heated
  • Changes in skin color and hair
  • Tingling in extremities (especially hands and feet)
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Incoordination and/or weak muscles
  • Sleep disturbances

  • Loss of bladder control
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with swallowing or speech
  • Uncontrollable muscle contractions or twitches
  • Sexual dysfunction (in men)

Typical Neuropathy Causes

Although there are a myriad of reasons that are related to the cause of neuropathy. Some of the most common ailments are listed here. Some can be debilitating while others may have a simple remedy.

  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency
  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Sports or other Physical Injuries
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Shingles (a strain of the Chicken Pox Virus)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Chemotherapy, Radiation, or other Cancer Treatments

Treatment of Neuropathy

If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, it’s important to check with your doctor. The resolution may be as simple as adding vitamins to your diet, or treating a physical injury. Sometimes, however, you may find that your neuropathy is caused by an incurable issue (such as chemotherapy) and you may be looking for a way to relieve the discomfort. One of the best natural methods of relieving neuropathy is by using essential oils.

Which Essential Oils Work for Neuropathy?

Essential Oils are the “essence” of plants, powerfully extracted to provide the strongest, most effective means of applying the properties to the body. Essential oils are most commonly applied in a topical manner, typically using a carrier oil for dilution. Certain essential oils have properties which stimulate and provide healing to the nervous system. Essential oils can be used to address various issues with the nerves, including pain, hypersensitivity, discomfort, tingling, cold/heat susceptibility, and numbness.

The best essential oils for neuropathy are those that help bring healing to the nervous system while relieving stress. Some of the best essential oils for neuropathy include:

Helichrysum Essential Oil

Providing healing to the nerves as well as relief from pain, Helichrysum is an extremely powerful essential oil which comes from the flower of the Helichrysum plant. It is in the higher price range of essential oils, but those who use it find it extremely effective and a little goes a long way.

Cypress Essential Oil

Extracted from the cypress tree, this essential oil is effective in promoting circulation, taking the blood supply to the extremities and reducing the feelings of numbness or tingling. Cypress essential oil is also helpful when used for ailments related to respiration, liver function, and bleeding problems.

Tansy Essential Oil

Extracted from the tansy plant, this essential oil offers anti-itch and pain-relieving properties. Tansy should not be ingested as it could be poisonous if swallowed. Also on the expensive side, this oil is effective in relaxing muscles and reliving nerve difficulties.

Marjoram Essential Oil

Useful for calming and warming, Marjoram essential oil is particularly effective in soothing muscles and working as an antispasmodic. It can be helpful in relieving cramps while providing calming to muscle tension or aches which may be related to nervous system issues.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Providing relaxation properties, Ylang Ylang is the perfect essential oil to soothe a disturbed nervous system. The scent is sweet with a bit of spice, and strongly aromatic.

Wild Orange Essential Oil

An essential oil with stimulating properties, Wild Orange promotes circulation while minimizing numbness or tingling. Sweet Orange is a less expensive but ineffective substitute, so be sure to stick with the Wild Orange variety. The antioxidants in Wild Orange also help to aid the body in healing itself.

Neuropathy Massage Recipe with Essential Oils

Combining essential oils into a massage oil allows physical stimulation (massage) to be used in conjunction with natural healing (essential oils). This combination may be particularly helpful when massaged into the areas of the body which are experiencing the symptoms:

5 drops Lavender Essential Oil

5 drops Cypress Essential Oil

5 drops Marjoram Essential Oil

9 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil

6 drops Helichrysum Essential Oil

6 drops Frankincense Essential Oil

3 Tablespoons Fractionated Coconut Oil

Use as a massage oil and rub onto areas affected by symptoms of neuropathy. Also, rub on the bottoms of the feet to allow for maximum absorption. Store in a dark glass bottle.

Neuropathy Bath Soak with Essential Oils

Sometimes a hot bath is one of the only things that can help provide relief and relaxation for those with neuropathy. Try out this blend of essential oils to provide relief to uncomfortable nerve problems.

5 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

5 drops Blue Tansy Essential Oil

3 drops Wild Orange Essential Oil

1 cup Epsom salt

Add to hot bath and stir. Soak for at least 10 minutes or more.

When neuropathy exists as a peripheral issue, such as in diabetic neuropathy, it is important to deal with the symptoms in the most natural way possible. Of course, dealing with the main problem of diabetes is critical, but using powerful essential oils can offer a great deal of relief from the struggle.

“Numbing the Pain of Peripheral Neuropathy” – how to deal with nerve pain naturally

One of the themes of this blog is pain and pain management. I’m also very interested in natural and complementary ways of treating the symptoms of different medical conditions.

So I was very interested when I saw this infographic which looks at a few ways of treating Peripheral Neuropathy. Or nerve pain in the extremities of the body.

We have run a very successful discussion blog on neuropathic pain when we started PatientTalk.Org which look at the various ways our readers dealt with nerve pain. It is well worth a read with over 100 people telling their stories about neuropathy.

This infographic is interesting. While it highlights diabetes, lupus and chemotherapy as causes of Peripheral Neuropathy it also suggests that using natural treatments might work.

See what you think. Is it in your view correct? It would be great if you would share your experiences with us in the comments box below.

Thanks very much in advance.

Numbing the Pain of Peripheral Neuropathy

From Visually.

Blood Care Awareness – What are leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma? Get informed here!


Blood Cancer Awareness
Blood Cancer Awareness

Doctors to be offered online training to improve UK’s poor diagnosis rates for blood cancers

• A new training course has been developed by blood cancer support charity Leukaemia CARE, in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and launched to mark the start of Blood Cancer Awareness Month

• The course set to radically improve GP knowledge of blood cancer symptoms, potentially saving around 1,000 lives a year

• Blood cancer survival from GP referral stands at 83.6% – but falls to 53.1% if diagnosis is delayed until the emergency admissions route.

• However, blood cancer symptoms can be easily confused with the symptoms of other less serious illnesses like the flu, leading to 33% of blood cancers – more than 10,000 patients – only diagnosed via emergency admissions

• Blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are statistically the nation’s fifth largest cancer threat with 34,000 people diagnosed each year, and are the third biggest cancer killer

A new online training course designed to raise awareness of the symptoms of blood cancer among GPs is set to radically improve the rate of early diagnosis, bringing the UK up to EU standards and potentially saving around 1,000 lives a year.

Blood cancer support charity Leukaemia CARE, in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), has developed the course in a bid to deliver better outcomes for the 34,000 people diagnosed with blood cancers in the UK each year.


When combined, blood cancers like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are statistically the nation’s fifth largest cancer threat and third biggest cancer killer. And yet because many of the symptoms of blood cancer experienced by patients, such as persistent fatigue, night sweats, joint pain, bruising and recurrent infections, may also be linked with a wide range of other less serious diseases, 33% of blood cancers – more than 10,000 patients – are only diagnosed via the emergency admissions route, including accident and emergency.

Research shows that early diagnosis has a major impact on survival rates. For instance, the one year survival rate for myeloma patients diagnosed following a GP referral stands at 83.6% – but falls to 53.1% if diagnosis is delayed until the emergency admissions route3.

While online courses for GPs are available for other major cancers, this is the first of its kind for all blood cancers. Free of charge, it combines information on how to recognise the symptoms with case studies and, like all RCGP training courses, carries Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points – which GPs must complete to demonstrate that they are meeting the standards set by the General Medical Council.

The news comes as the UK marks its third Blood Cancer Awareness Month (1-30 September).

We interview Tony Gavin the Director of Campaigning and Advocacy at Leukaemia CARE and Dr Ishani Patel who is a GP and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Clinical Lead for Early Diagnosis of Cancer and Quality Improvement

Question – What is blood cancer?

Dr Ishani Patel
Dr Ishani Patel

Dr Ishani Patel – Blood cancer is an excessive growth of blood cells. For diseases such as lymphoma and leukaemia, this can be an excessive growth of white blood cells. The white blood cell is responsible for immunity and fighting off infection. However, when there is an overgrowth or an excessive amount of white cells, patients can often present with symptoms such as tiredness, excessive sweating, bone pains, bruising and bleeding. That’s a very brief overview of what a blood cancer is.

Question – How do leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma differ from each other?

Tony Gavin – That is a huge question because within those disease areas there are also other disease types. There are 90 different leukaemias and 60 different lymphomas. There’s about 5 or 6 main types of myeloma, as well as other types, so we couldn’t really begin to describe the differences between them.

Collectively blood cancers are a huge problem in the UK and they are very poorly understood. At Leukaemia Care we think of them as a Cinderella disease, tucked away in the background with nobody fully aware of them, but blood cancers are the fourth largest notifiable cancer amongst men and women. Indeed if you look at the mortality rates and the people who die from blood cancer, more people die from blood cancer than die from breast cancer, more people die from blood cancer than die from prostate cancer. The sixth largest notifiable cancer in the UK is malignant melanoma (skin cancer). More people die from blood cancer than are actually diagnosed with skin cancer.
That’s how significant the problem is and that’s why we decided we needed to do something to help general practitioners recognise the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Question – What do the stages of different cancers mean?

Dr Ishani Patel – The different stages correspond with how much the disease has progressed.

For example in the context of blood cancers and the subset myeloma, if you present to the GP and are referred onto a specialist, your 1 year survival rate is 84% because you are diagnosed at an early stage, so stage 1.

However if you present as an emergency presentation, which is a third of all blood cancers, your 1 year survival rate drops to 55% so that’s a late stage diagnosis, which could be considered stage 3 or 4.

It’s difficult to drill into the detail of what each stage means because it’s obviously different depending on the type of blood cancer and as Tony’s just mentioned there are over 100 different types of blood cancers just within that terminology.

Question – What are the early signs and symptoms of blood cancers?

Dr Ishani Patel – Signs and symptoms to look out for include tiredness, excessive sweating, bone pain, bruising, bleeding, and recurrent infections. These can all present as individual signs or as a cluster of an early blood cancer. However if patients experience loss of appetite or weight loss, those are obviously signs of perhaps a cancer that has progressed.

Tony Gavin – With the lymphomas for instance you might have lumps in the neck or lumps in the armpit, or lumps in the groin. And the other thing to look out for is that quite a lot of the symptoms can be defined by something else. They could be just a common cold or flu or even menopause for the older patient. It’s when these signs and symptoms are persistent that you really need to take notice of them.

Question – Who treats these cancers and how?

Dr Ishani Patel – If we were to look at a classic patient journey, the GP who thinks there is a collection of symptoms that are causing concern would arrange for blood tests and perhaps a urine test or potentially even x-rays within primary care. They would arrange for what’s called a fast track cancer referral, which is a two-week-wait cancer referral where the patient can then be met by a haematologist. However, not all patients experience the same journey because of the varying ways that they present.

If a patient presents with, for example, a neck lump or a lump in their armpit or groin, they may go straight to a surgeon because they need to get a tissue sample or a biopsy to get a diagnosis.

However if a patient that presents with these symptoms then has a blood test and the blood test itself is abnormal, then they may be routed to a haematologist. Not everybody sees a haematologist straight away because it does very much depend on how they present in the first place.

Tony Gavin – The problem with bone pain is you would probably be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon before they realize it could be myeloma for instance. Within the blood cancer specialist community, within the haematology community, there are people that will specialise in leukaemias, lymphomas, and myelomas, and indeed within the leukaemias you may get people that specialise with chronic myeloid leukaemia, and those that specialize with acute myeloid leukaemia, so it varies. There are generalists and there are very, very specific specialists.

Question – How effective are the treatments?

Tony Gavin – That’s a really good question but a very difficult one to answer because you will find Tony Gavindifferent treatments for the whole range of different disease areas. I can quote one disease area where there is really, really good news. About 12 years ago survival rates for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) were poor. If you were diagnosed with CML in 2000 for instance then your survival prospects would be 3 – 5 years. In 2001 a new drug called Imatanib was developed – a tyrosine-kinase inhibitor. This class of drug has completely and utterly revolutionised the treatment of CML. Patients that respond to these drugs will not die from CML, they will not die from the leukaemia. This particular class of drugs is amazing, it’s one of the best good luck stories going around. It is a huge step change in the treatment of that particular disease.

Question – Please tell us about this new online tool, what it does and what its value will be.

Dr Ishani Patel – Leukaemia Care and the Royal College of General Practitioners have come together to develop a one hour learning course for not only GPs but all primary care health professionals. GPs are legally and professionally required to commit and evidence their own professional development i.e. the time they contribute to their own education. What Leukaemia Care has recognised is that the other cancers have a lot of attention both in the media and within GP education and we didn’t want blood cancers to be overlooked. So what this course does is provide case based scenarios almost like it is in real life. As a GP you’re sitting in your consultation room and a patient presents with a cluster of symptoms and it challenges the GP to think about what their next steps would be. For example if a patient presents with tiredness and with a lump in the neck what would they do next? And then once they have submitted their answers and evidenced their own reflection, it then takes them through to the gold standard and through the NICE guidelines on what they should do next, how to ensure rapid investigation and how to ensure that the patient’s route to diagnosis is as quick as possible.

Question – What one piece of advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with a blood cancer?

Dr Ishani Patel – That’s a very tough question because there are different types of blood cancers. What I would say is that something that does get overlooked with all cancer treatments is nutrition. I would advise any patient going through or preparing to go through cancer treatments that could include steroids, chemotherapy, stem cell transplants and as Tony was saying tyrosine-kinase inhibitors that having a high protein diet and ensuring their nutrition is adequate will support them through their journey especially with managing the adverse effects of treatments. That would be my input from a GP perspective.

Tony Gavin – From my perspective, I would echo what Dr Patel has said but also say that they are not alone. They need to get in touch with a specialist organisation like Leukaemia Care, which can support them through their treatment. They can go online to leukaemiacare.org.uk and they can talk to our specialist nurse or talk to our care line experts. We have a care line that operates 24/7 so they can phone us at any time for help and advice and we can also put them in touch with patients who have been diagnosed with a similar disease so they can share their concerns and their worries. The other thing I have to say is there are breakthrough drugs coming through all the time in all the different disease areas and some of the new treatments coming through are superb. So first of all, don’t lose hope, get in touch with an organisation like Leukaemia Care and we’ll put you in touch with other groups too if you need to speak to somebody else.

We have a wealth of information online too and there’s lots that they can do to educate themselves on the disease.

Question – Where can people go for more information?

Dr Ishani Patel – Leukaemia Care provides robust information that is easy for patients to understand. From a GP perspective, I would encourage GPs to go to the Royal College of GPs website and do the online learning exercises to then be able to communicate that back to patients.

Tony Gavin – If patients do need more information once they have been in touch with Leukaemia Care, we can signpost them onto other areas.