Do I need to trim or shave my beard for radiation therapy?

Author: Courtney Misher, MPH, BSRT(T)
Last Reviewed: November 30, 2023

Question:

If I am going to be getting radiation therapy to my head and neck area will I need to shave before CT simulation or my radiation treatments?

Answer:

Thank you for asking this question. The answer depends on the institution where you are getting treated. I will share with you what I have found to be the most common practices for facial hair and radiation therapy.

If you have a bushy beard or mustache, you may be asked to trim or shave it. In some instances, a bushy beard can affect how well your mask fits. If you need to trim or shave your beard, your care team should talk to you about it before your CT simulation appointment.

However, in many cases you will not need to trim or shave your beard or mustache. If your care team does not ask you to trim or shave your facial hair, then you should not make any major changes to it after your CT simulation. This can cause your mask to become loose and allow for movement during treatment, which is not ideal. Once your mask is made during the CT simulation, adjustments cannot typically be made to it.

Another thing to consider is that it may be best to have your facial hair at a length that can be maintained with an electric razor. Wet shaving can irritate your skin during radiation therapy.

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