When in treatment for head and neck cancer: Beard or no beard?

Posted by scooter4 @scooter4, Sep 28, 2023

Starting radiation and chemo in 2 weeks. Post surgery I have grown a beard. Can I, should I keep it? Might it help with skin irritation? Right now neck and jaw lines way too sensitive to shave. I don't believe it will be too bushy to affect the mask fit.

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Hi @scooter4 and welcome. Good question. Guess it’s kind of a personal feeling about beards. I felt a clean face was easier to deal with the burnt skin. Afterwards I have never been able to grow any sort of beard on the radiated side of my face. At least it cuts down on shaving in the morning.
Good luck with your chemo and radiation treatments. We are here for you if you have questions.


I didnt shave my beard. However The radiation to the side of my neck ( lymph nodes as I had a few with cancer) caused my beard to fall out in that area within a few weeks of starting . To this day my beard hair has not grown back. I have been done with radiation about 2 months.


I had a beard when I started radiation and chemo last March. Within a couple of weeks if fell out in patches. I did shave with an elective shaver the rest of my patchwork.
It’s now been 5 months and mine did grow back as thick as before. That said the hair on the back of my neck is totally gone and there is no sign of return. That’s fine by me.


I don’t think I shaved, however, the radiation took care of that issue for me.
Nearly 7 years later and my neck along with jawline is very thin and slow growing.



I shaved my full beard to a goatee to help with skin care on the radiation site. 6 months later I can grow a beard again but it’s slightly thinner on the affected side. I no longer use blades and switched to an electric razor since I still have some lymphedema and don’t want to nick or cut that area. I’ll never wear a goatee again as that was my cancer look and my face thinned out quite a bit from weight loss and I don’t want reminders of that period of my life.


Strange thing happened to me. The radiation removed the beard on my neck and the hair on the back of my head. The whiskers never came back, which saves me time shaving. The odd thing is that the hair did grow back on the back of my head, but it came back black. Before radiation, it was gray. Now I am two-toned, like Pepe Le Pew.

I was thinking of getting the rest of my head radiated to make all the hair black. ; )

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