Patients, including those with afro hair, with alopecia or cancer, can get free wigs and scalp treatments at Guy’s and St Thomas’.
The hospital is raising awareness about the inclusive service, as they help people who experience hair loss due to alopecia or during chemotherapy feel more like themselves.
Alopecia is an autoimmune condition that damages hair follicles and causes hair loss.
The majority of wigs provided by Browns, the Trust’s wig supplier based at Guy’s Cancer Centre, are suitable for patients with afro hair, as well as all other hair types.
There is a wide range of wigs available including those with lace fronts or a parting, and synthetic and human hair wigs that can be styled with heat protection products, as well as aftercare products to maintain the wigs’ appearance.
Shirley Forest, 50, from Brixton has a form of alopecia, which caused the hair on her head to become patchy and bald in places and the loss of hair on her eyebrows. Shirley’s hair loss problem started five years ago, and she has been cared for by the dermatology department at Guy’s Hospital since 2021, using a range of treatments including medication, specialist shampoos and ointments.
Shirley said: “I depend on my wigs. For me, it’s like my hat. Even getting up to leave the house can be an effort if I don’t feel good because I know what’s underneath.
“It’s good to have the wig service because they understand what I need. I need a wig that is light and manageable so that my head can breathe. If I go to the shops they will say try this or get that, but I have allergies and I don’t know which wigs will set things off.”
Hairdresser Natasha Gordon at the wig service at Guy’s Cancer Centre, said: “We have braids, we have twists and many other styles. I’m over the moon when a patient is happy because you see them light up.
“They may come in here and are not in the best health or frame of mind. But when you get that person saying you’ve changed their life or you’ve made them feel better you feel that you are making a difference to that person’s life, even if it’s just for that moment.”
Cancer Hair Care also runs free drop-in sessions at Guy’s Cancer Centre on Thursdays for patients receiving chemotherapy treatment. They provide advice on a range of options including scalp cooling to minimise hair loss during chemotherapy, ways to look after your scalp, workshops on specialist headwear, and products for natural hair types.
Colin Kinloch, Director of Funding at Guy’s Cancer Charity, said: “Hair type, gender and age can all have a significant impact on the physical and emotional experiences of hair loss.
“Ensuring services are inclusive to all is a shared priority of the Charity and the Trust and we are proud to support Jasmin and her team in this important and impactful work,” he added.
Cancer Hair Care is supported by Guy’s Cancer Charity.
Jasmin Julia Gupta, founder of Cancer Hair Care, said: “We offer independent, expert guidance for all hair types including specialist guidance for afro hair. From advice about removing weaves and braibefore to hair loss right through to when it may be appropriate to relax hair or have braids added to new hair growth. Our specialisly know how to guide people so that they have the inner confidence to make choices.”