Appearance-related effects of cancer treatment can be difficult for many individuals. Hair loss especially can be a distressing side effect, but synthetic wigs can help. Here are care tips for anyone using synthetic wig along with additional resources to consider.

Synthetic Wig Care Instructions

1) Gently brush out the wig to remove any tangles.

2) When the wig is ready to be washed, fill the sink with cool water. Never use hot water, as this can damage synthetic hair. Pour in about a quarter-size dab of shampoo (your own or baby shampoo). When the wig is fully wet, swish it around for about a minute and then let soak for about another minute. TIP: Leave the wig to soak in the shampoo and water for five minutes before washing. This will loosen any stubborn debris and results in less rubbing friction.

3) Remove the wig and rinse in cold water until no suds remain.

4) Drying: It is all right to blot the wig with a towel, but don’t twist the wig or wring it out. You can use your fingers to gently separate and arrange the strands as the wig is drying, but don’t try to comb or brush the wig while still wet. The fibers could be stretched to the breaking point. Place the wig on a tall object, like a vase or a hairspray can to dry overnight. Do not allow the wig to dry in direct sunlight.

5) When the wig is completely dry, you can brush it and style it as you usually would.

Wigs need to be washed approximately once a month.

Remember, no heat! Do not expose your wig to heat over 160 degrees or so, for example, avoid opening an oven, standing near a grill, or putting the wig under a lamp.

CancerCare’s Wig Clinic

The social workers who maintain CancerCare’s Wig Clinic at our New York City headquarters recognize that appearance-related effects of cancer treatment can be difficult for many women. The Wig Clinic aims to empower women diagnosed with cancer to look and feel their best during treatment and beyond; to cope with dignity and confidence.

This is an opportunity for women diagnosed with any type of cancer who are receiving chemotherapy to receive one free wig. We provide new wigs in a variety of lengths, colors and styles. During the individual 30-minute fitting, women have the opportunity to try on different wigs with assistance from a wig fitter. An oncology social worker is also present to provide support. Basic wig care is discussed, although we do not have the capacity to cut or style wigs ourselves.

CancerCare’s New Jersey and Connecticut offices offer free wig fittings by appointment. Call 800-813-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Getting Emotional Support

The emotional and physical changes associated with cancer are often overwhelming. Oncology social workers are licensed professionals who counsel people affected by cancer, providing emotional support and helping people access practical assistance. CancerCare’s oncology social workers are available to help face-to-face, online or on the telephone to find local resources, free of charge. To learn more, visit www.cancercare.org or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

Edited by Essie Roman, LMSW

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Last updated November 10, 2016

The information presented in this publication is provided for your general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified health professionals who are aware of your specific situation. We encourage you to take information and questions back to your individual health care provider as a way of creating a dialogue and partnership about your cancer and your treatment.

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