Scary Hair with Hepatitis C
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Profile photo of Karen Hoyt

Hepatitis C has been called the silent disease. That is because there is damage going on inside and we don’t even know it. We may not even look like we’re sick. I had friends who didn’t know I was sick with end stage liver disease. It surprised me, because sometimes liver disease has some side effects that show. One of them is hair problems.

Causes of Scary Hair with Hepatitis C

    • Protein – Your liver processes protein in your body. With a virus attacking your liver, it’s is hard to break down protein. It can really show up in your hair.
    • Medications – You have developed ascites. This happens when fluid builds up in your abdomen. It can make you sick, so your doctor may give you a diuretic. This can cause dry and brittle hair.
    • Hep C Treatment – Some of the medication for treating the hepatitis C virus can cause your hair to change, or even fall out. This is usually temporary. Your hair may return to normal within weeks after treatment is over. Mine was growing in even while it was falling out. I had longer hair, but there was always some floating hair at the top where baby hairs were coming in.

Help for Hair with Hepatitis C

      • Good Food – Your hair is a reflection of your overall nutritional health. If you are getting enough vitamins and protein, it can help to strengthen your hair. Try drinking a protein shake with some vitamins to promote your overall health.
      • Shampoo and Conditioners – Many products claim to help reduce hair loss. I tried a few different brands while on treatment. Some of them seemed to work, but in the long run it was too expensive. I stuck with one brand and tried not to shampoo too often. I felt that the pulling and blow drying made my hair more fragile. Some are designed to “thicken” your hair, and they kind of felt gummy. I was pretty sick.
      • Colors and Treatments – Some doctors will advise that a person with advanced cirrhosis only use natural coloring products. I went ahead and treated the root area, but not very frequently during treatment. I still do. I am careful and use a fan to keep the air moving so that the fumes are not so strong.
      • Satin Pillowcases – This was one of my best buys while treating for hep C. With your head resting on a slick surface, there is not as much friction. Less hair seemed to fall out.
      • Wigs – Yes, I even wore a wig for several months. The HCV treatments had harsh side effects then. The hair loss was extreme and yes… very scary. A wig seemed itchy during the summer, but helped me keep up appearances at work.
      • Hat or Scarf – Putting on a stylish hat can help to cover up any evidence or dry or brittle hair. A ball cap is always in style and can look cool too. There are some really nice scarves that can be found at any discount store. They can serve as a camouflage also.

In the end, hair grows. Our body heals. As new cells begin to develop, hair, nails, muscles, and strength all return. Scary hair can be a part of hepatitis C, but we can feel strong and beautiful just to be alive!

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