Being an effective treatment for destroying cancer cells, chemotherapy also has some big disadvantages as it destroys healthy cells as well. This can cause hair loss as hair is the unfortunate bystander that mostly has to take the fall along with the cancer cells. But the good news is that hair loss after chemo won’t last forever!
In this article, I am going to explain the process of hair loss after chemo and what you can do to grow back your hair.
Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss?
At the latest when you face rapid hair loss due to the side effects of a treatment, you will realize how distressing losing your hair can be. But why exactly does chemotherapy cause hair loss?
Chemotherapy is designed to effectively target and kill rapidly growing and dividing cells. This procedure affects the natural hair growth cycle because hair follicles have a host of cells that have to divide frequently in order to produce new hair. The level of hair loss can vary depending on the type of cancer.
Some patients experience hair loss within the first 2 weeks and some later. But fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, hair loss after chemo is temporary and won’t last for long.
How Long Will It Take To Grow Back Hair After Chemo?
People who have undergone chemotherapy may not only lose hair on their scalp but also on other parts of their body. Eyelashes, eyebrows, armpits and other body parts are primarily affected. When hair loss occurs within the first 2 weeks of the treatment, it might get worse for the first couple of months.
The main reason why it may take some time after being able to grow back hair is that it takes time until all the chemotherapy drugs leave your body and stop attacking your healthy dividing cells.
A few weeks after treatment, most people will notice fuzzy and thin hair at first until thick hair starts to grow within 2 months after the last chemotherapy.
There is only a small percentage of people who may never be able to regrow their hair after chemotherapy, for instance after being treated with a breast cancer drug called “Docetaxel”, better known as “Taxotere”.
Taking this drug can increase the risk of permanent hair loss and has been known for causing permanent hair loss in some patients.
The Process Of Hair Growth After Chemotherapy
Hair growth after chemotherapy typically follows a certain timeline.
- 2-3 weeks: Growth of fuzzy hair.
- 1-2 months: Growing hair starts to become thicker.
- 2-3 months: New hair is about an inch long.
- 6 months: Your hair will probably be about 2-3 inches long at that time.
- 12 months: Your hair may be 4-6 inches long now.
Of course the results can slightly vary from individual to individual. Don’t worry about your hair not looking the way it used to before chemotherapy because it all takes time. Growing your hair back is something that doesn’t happen overnight. Just be patient and happy about every single hair growth progress.
Facts About Hair Growth After Chemo
Here are some facts about hair growth after chemotherapy you should be aware of:
- The extent of hair loss varies with a person’s age, genetics, ethnicity, health and some other factors.
- The type of hair loss depends on the person itself.
- As soon as chemotherapy drugs or infusions are no longer attacking healthy cells, your hair will likely start to grow back.
- Some people might experience faster hair growth after chemotherapy.
Effective Methods To Stimulate Hair Growth After Chemo
#1 Use the right shampoo: Use a shampoo that contains niacin, which will improve the circulation in your scalp. Ingredients like salicylic acid will clean the scalp.
#2 Inositol: Foods that are high in Inositol will help regenerate healthy hair cells. Inositol can be found in brown rice, nuts, beans, citrus fruits and many more.
#3 Scalp cooling caps: During your chemotherapy infusions, you can place a cooling cap on your head to slow the blood flow to your head. Hypothermia caps are worn by chemotherapy patients every 30 minutes for 7 hours on the treatment day. That way, chemotherapy drugs are less likely to affect your hair.
#4 Minoxidil (Rogaine): You can use Rogaine before and also during chemotherapy as it widens the follicles when used properly.
#5 Find a good hair stylist: Finding a good hair stylist can help you find the best hair style. Make sure to consult your dermatologist or oncologist before you decide to bleach or color your hair.
#6 Use cool water: Instead of washing your hair with hot water, use cold water instead. This way you won’t cause any harm to your hair follicles.
#7 Vitamins: Vitamin B, C and E are essential for hair growth. Vitamin B helps stimulate circulation, Vitamin C strengthens the follicles and Vitamin E helps promote capillary growth. If you want to see faster results, you can supplement with Vitamin B6 and B12.
#8 High protein foods: A well-balanced diet will help promote hair growth. This diet should include eggs, beans, meat, lentils and many more.
#9: Be gentle to your hair: Stay away from hair colors, bleaches or heat tools!
#10: New Haircut: Keep your hair as short as possible. Short hair will not only make your hair look fuller but also hide bald patches.
#11 Protect your scalp: Being exposed to the sun can cause irritations to your scalp as it may become more sensitive due to the treatment. Use sunscreen or a head covering to protect your scalp.
#12 Be patient: As mentioned above, it will take a while until you can see the first results. It just takes time to recover from a chemotherapy. Just give your body the time it needs and be thankful for every single progress and you will see your hair grow back in no time!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
Founder of The Hairy Solution