There are many different types of cancer wigs available for cancer patients suffering medical hair loss due to chemotherapy. Chemotherapy patients can choose from human hair wigs and synthetic wigs; short and long wigs; wigs, wiglets, and hair pieces; and several types of wig construction. Costs also vary; the price of a cancer wig can vary from relatively inexpensive to thousands of US dollars.
The first choice for chemotherapy patients is whether to purchase cancer wigs made of human hair or synthetics. Most chemotherapy patients choose synthetic wigs, which offer a number of advantages. They tend to be far less expensive than human hair wigs, which typically start at 25 times the cost of a basic synthetic wig, and can cost up to 100 times as much. Synthetic wigs also tend to be easier to take care of; they dry faster than human hair wigs, for instance. The styled look of many synthetic wigs can't be changed as easily as that of human hair wigs, although some synthetic wigs can be restyled after cleaning.
Chemotherapy patients looking for cancer wigs will also have to decide whether they want styles with short or long hair. For many, short-hair wigs will be easier to manage, and will serve as a more natural transition to life after chemo, when real hair starts to grow back. Depending on the amount of hair loss resulting from chemotherapy, patients also may want to choose among wigs, wiglets, and hair pieces. Loss of all hair requires a full wig, while thinning hair can be covered with a partial wig woven into the patient's own hair. To cover patchy bald spots, a wiglet can be used.
Wigs are constructed in several ways that affect quality and value. Machine-made wigs, in which clumps of synthetic hair called wefts are sewn together, are the least expensive. Some wearers also like the vents in manufactured wigs, which allow for better air circulation around the scalp, making the wigs more comfortable, especially in hot weather. High-quality synthetic wigs can look surprisingly realistic.
Handmade wigs, in which individual strands of hair are tied into a skullcap, can create a more natural look. This method of production is more expensive, however. Custom-made wigs are very expensive and may take months to make, which generally makes them the least appropriate option for chemotherapy patients.
Chemotherapy patients considering cancer wigs should check with their health insurers to see if cancer wigs are covered under their policies. The medical terminology for a cancer wig is a hair or cranial prosthesis. The American Cancer Society and other cancer support organizations are good sources for cancer wigs and information about them.