for Veterans and the Public
Skin and hair
Hepatitis C treatment can cause temporary hair loss, skin rashes, and injection site reactions. Here are ways to deal with these side effects.
About 1 of 3 patients on interferon loses hair while they are on therapy. The hair loss usually happens little by little, not in big patches (like it does during cancer chemotherapy). After you stop interferon, your hair will grow back slowly to its normal thickness.
- Wear caps or scarves.
- Use a wide-toothed comb.
- Don't pull on your hair or comb it a lot.
- Don't blow-dry, dye, perm, braid, or cornrow your hair.
Skin rashes, particularly on the arms and trunk (torso), often result from the ribavirin. These rashes tend to come and go during the course of the treatment.
- Take cool baths and use moisturizing soaps (such as Dove, Oil of Olay, and Cetaphil).
- Apply skin lotions (such as Aquaphor, Curel, Aveeno, and Absorbase).
- Use hydrocortisone cream as prescribed by your provider.
- If your scalp is dry, use shampoos with selenium.
- Protect your rash from sun exposure, which can make the rash worse.
- Avoid hot showers and baths. They can irritate the skin.
- If these lotions and creams don't work, talk to your doctor about oral medications.
Injection site reactions
Red, "blotchy" areas can appear around the site of your injection. Sometimes they will itch. They tend to get better over the course of several days.
- Apply a cold pack to the area.
- Use hydrocortisone cream for itching (ask your health care provider about this).
- Change the site of injection--from abdomen to thighs, or switch to the other side of the body.