Wigs, turbans, scarves and hats

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Some people choose to wear a wig, hat, scarf, turban or beanie after losing their hair, others prefer not to wear anything on their head.

The important thing is to do whatever makes you feel comfortable and gives you the most confidence.

  • Scarves usually need to be at least 50 cm long to cover the scalp. Cotton, lightweight wools or blends are the best fabrics to use as nylon or silk tend to slip off the head too easily. Scarves can be tied in lots of different ways.
  • A beanie, soft cap, or turban is often a comfortable choice.
  • Bucket hats are popular and they offer more protection for the face.
Choosing a wig or hairpiece

Wigs are made from real hair or synthetic materials. Both can look natural.

  • Human hair wigs
    tend to be more expensive and need to be washed and styled like normal hair with hot rollers, curling wands and straighteners. They can be trimmed and coloured darker but not lighter, they are heavier and will last longer.
  • Synthetic wigs
    are less expensive, lighter, dry quickly and need less care. They can’t be restyled or recoloured but they can be trimmed. Synthetic wigs will only last about nine months but this may be all you need.
Before selecting a wig

Take a friend or family member along with you for support and to help you choose your wig.

  • Check if your treatment centre or local Cancer Council has a wig loan service or donated wigs at a reduced price. This can be an economical alternative to buying a new wig.
  • Ask your hairdresser or speak to the consultant at a wig salon about a style of wig that would suit you. There may be a cost involved for a wig consultation. Remember to ask about the cost when making an appointment or a decision.
  • Visit specialty wig suppliers who are experienced in fitting wigs for people receiving chemotherapy. Look in the Yellow pages for suppliers or contact Cancer Council 13 11 20.
  • Iif you want to match your wig to your own colour and style, start looking for it before hair loss begins or take a photo from before losing your hair. Some people like to try something different and choose a different style and colour.
  • Look for a wig that adjusts to any head size to allow for variations as you lose your hair.
Paying for a wig or hairpiece

You may be able to get assistance with the cost of your wig or hairpiece.

  • Treatment in a public hospital
    you may be entitled to financial assistance towards the purchase of a wig. Ask your nurse or social worker for information.
  • Health insurance funds
    some will cover part of the cost of a wig if you are losing your hair due to disease or treatment. You will need a letter from your doctor to accompany a claim. Check your entitlement with your particular fund before you buy your wig.
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs
    will cover the total cost of a synthetic wig if you have full entitlements as a veteran.

Look Good Feel Better is a national community service program run by the Cancer Patients Foundation, dedicated to teaching cancer patients how to manage the appearance-related side-effects caused by cancer treatment. Women, men and teens participate in practical workshop demonstrations covering skin care, make-up and head wear, leaving them empowered and ready to face their cancer diagnosis with confidence.

Workshops are held regularly in metropolitan and some regional areas. Call 1800 650 960 or visit www.lgfb.org.au/workshop for information and to register.

Acknowledgements: The information is based on the expertise of clinicians who work in the area and consumer experience and was reviewed by: Karen Hall, Clinical Nurse, Cancer Services Division, Flinders Medical Centre SA; Joy Hills, Support Officer Cancer Council Tasmania; Frank Hughes - 13 11 20 consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Christine Long, Team Leader, Health Professional & Education, Cancer Council Queensland; Sue Spencer, Clinical Manager Oncology, Breast Care Nurse, Western Hospital SA; Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurses; Nina Mastrangelo, Consumer SA; Clinical health professionals at Icon Cancer Care SA.

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