Chemotherapy Alopecia Care


Create a 4th year thesis research and design project using decentralized health care as a point of departure.

What is Chemotherapy-induced alopecia?

Chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) is the process of hair loss one goes through during chemotherapy and is one of the most common side effects to all types of cancer.

Why is this important?

There are many day-to-day activities layered with the nuanced experience of cancer that many people cannot understand. Activities that seem mundane and simple can become infinitely harder and traumatic as a result.

of patients undergoing treatment experience hair loss and have little intervention methods for physical management or means to anticipate the event.

of patients undergoing treatment experience hair loss and have little intervention methods for physical management or means to anticipate the event.


Hair loss is considered to be the most traumatic side effect of chemotherapy.


Hair loss is the largest visible identifier of illness for patients and those who are around them.


Chemotherapy patients have little control over their health situation.

The Solution:

The design solution I am proposing is a self-care toolkit for chemotherapy patients to cope and manage their hair loss. This kit will help its users prepare for the experience through information giving and help manage the physical aspects of hair loss with a variety of tools. this would be a kit implemented and provided before chemotherapy starts as a method of anticipatory coping for patients, preparing them for possible physical and psychosocial outcomes during their experience.

drawing + early prototypes

My initial prototypes all focused on the physical management of hair using tools. They all focused on tools that patients could use on their own and discreetly.

Interviews + empathetic testing

Upon clearance with the Carleton Ethics board, I started interviewing health professionals, and cancer patients in remission about their general thoughts on the experience. I also participated in psychosocial workshops to fully understand the issues I wanted to address.

prototype testing

I tested my works-like prototypes on a general population to test the functionality of my possible solutions. I tested the efficiency of different mechanical solutions for cleaning, washing, and combing through hair.

kano analysis

Using the data collected from my testing and interviews I made a kano analysis survey to approximate what features were: required, desired, excitable, and undesirable for users.

information synthesis

Gathering all the information corroborated through interviews, prototype testing, and research; I organized a chart of 'Design cues'. These individual cues would help inform the necessary details and features I would need to keep in mind for the development of the final design.

your alopecia preparation kit

Hair brush

The silicone brush can be removed from the handle to fit as a glove over the hand. The soft durometer value of the silicone provides a gentle comb for brushing or washing hair. The size offers a discreet way to manage and care for hair even in public

cleaning brush

The brush and handle combination uses the sticky and static nature of the silicone to clean away hair from soft surfaces like pillows and clothing. The handle is designed to easily grip with weak hands and the copper plating provides a hygienic, antibacterial shield for immunosuppressed users.

Sun cap

To provide sun protection, this thin cap will serve as an underlayer for hats and scarves that may not provide the level of protection users need. The strap around the base acts as a belt loop to secure scarves in place.

anticipatory guide

The guide will be an information base to help patients prepare and anticipate their experience. It will provide patients with a list of professional contacts, local business', tips, and tricks for common experiences, and how to use the tools provided in the kit.

I designed the guide as a long format poster to present information in a more dynamic way than a brochure or booklet. Having all information placed on a single page intended to be seen in its entirety means the user has a visual representation of the start and end of their journey which is important for someone experiencing alopecia.


The packaging for the tool kit is meant to be personable and gift-like, to create a positive significance to the event. The fabric cover is a gift-wrapping method referred to as 'Furoshiki' which adds a personal touch to the kit and can be used as a head scarf for the user.