OBJECTIVES: To examine the physiology and pathophysiology of loss of hair, the impact of alopecia on the patient, nursing and self-care interventions, and available resources.
DATA SOURCES: Published articles pertaining to alopecia and personal experiences of coping with alopecia.
CONCLUSIONS: Hair loss often is the most traumatic side effect for cancer patients. It causes depression, loss of self-confidence, and humiliation in men and women of all ages. Too fewstudies exist to make a definitive recommendation for scalp hypothermia and the use of scalp tourniquets. The major controversy and issue to consider with these hair-preservation techniques is scalp metastases. Further studies are needed to identify the impact of alopecia on patient self-image and quality of life.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Nursing interventions should be directed toward helping the patient and family adapt to and cope with alopecia. Patient education, identification of available resources, and supportive listening are therapeutic interventions. (16 Refs)

Pickard-Holley S

Colleges of Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA.

Semin Oncol Nurs; 11(4):235-8 1995