Chemotherapy is an effective cancer treatment, however, it has many side effects on the human body. Excessive hair loss is one such chemotherapy side effect, which most cancer patients dread and find difficult to deal with. Parting with your beautiful mane is not at all easy, especially for the women folk. Naturally, this is not a favorite treatment option among women.
Regrowing hair after chemo is often their first concern, when they hear that they will need to undergo chemotherapy. Thus, if you too are wondering whether your hair will grow back after chemotherapy or not, then here is good news for you, hair does grow back within few months after chemotherapy!
Chemotherapy Drugs and Hair Loss
The extent of hair loss depends upon the type of chemotherapy drugs used for the treatment. The working mechanism of these drugs is simple; they detect fast-growing cells and attack them. However, they cannot tell the difference between cancer cells and harmless body cells, thereby end up killing these harmless cells as well. This also applies to the cells that are responsible for hair growth. Drugs like Cytoxan, Taxol and Adriamycin are responsible for excessive or total hair loss. After chemotherapy, besides loss of scalp hair, people also lose their eyebrows, eyelashes and hair on the other regions of the body.
How Long Does it Take for the Hair to Grow Back
➟ Hair loss begins after 10-15 days of chemotherapy. You may start losing clumps of hair rapidly and within a week you'll lose about 50% of your hair. This continues for about a month or until the effect of chemotherapy drugs completely subsides. However, the hair loss after chemotherapy is mostly temporary.
➟ Within next 2 weeks post chemotherapy sessions, you will start noticing hair growth. In some people, hair begins to regrow during the chemotherapy phase itself. A soft fuzzy layer of hair will be seen. This will be followed by an inch of hair in the next 4-5 weeks. Growth of about quarter to half an inch every month is the average hair growth rate after chemotherapy.
➟ Typically, hair regrowth is seen to occur within 4 to 6 weeks after cessation of chemotherapy. However, for some, hair takes longer to grow back. It may take several months before one is able to get a trim. The time taken for hair to regrow after chemotherapy varies from person to person, especially depending on the overall health, and type and amount of chemotherapy dose.
➟It is also important to note that even though hair grows back after chemotherapy, the texture and shade may vary. Those who had straight hair, may have wavy or curly hair once it grows back. For others the hair that has regrown is thicker or thinner. In some people, the hair may grow to be thicker or thinner at the top, while others may experience hair growth in patches.
➟ The color of the regrown hair may also be different. Those with blond hair may find their hair has a darker shade to it after it grows back. The color and texture of the hair usually goes back to its earlier form within a year's time in most people.
Managing Hair Growth after Chemotherapy
As far as enhancing the growth is concerned, no matter what one does, the growth rate of hair remains ¼ to ½ inch every month. What can be controlled is the rate of hair fall. By careful hair maintenance one can prevent unwanted hair fall, which will give the head a more fuller look. Let's have a look at how to manage the newly grown hair.
➟ During the initial stages, when the hair is beginning to grow back, it is important to keep applying moisturizers, to ease the itching sensation associated with hair regrowth.
➟ Wearing hats, scarves, stoles, wigs, etc. on the head will protect the scalp from sunburns. It's better to stick to hats and scarves during the initial growing period, because the scalp can be very sensitive and itchy. Taking off your wig may not be possible always.
➟ When the hair grows back it may appear thin. This can be managed by trimming the hair. However, stick to just trimming and stay away from bleaching, coloring, perming, straightening, etc. These treatments will just damage the hair.
➟ Use a soft-bristled brush to comb your hair. While combing, make sure you comb it with gentle strokes. Harsh brushing can damage the hair, because hair that has grown back after chemotherapy is weaker.
➟ Use gentle shampoos to wash the hair. It's best to pat dry the hair using a towel. If a hair dryer is used, it should be on the gentle setting and must be held at some distance from the head.
➟ Getting a satin cap, and wearing it while sleeping will help reduce friction between the pillow cover and your hair. This will prevent hair damage at night.
➟ For hair that regrew in patches, shaving the head, will help get evenly distributed hair the next time round.
It's important to note that even though hair regrows after chemotherapy, it may fall out. However, it's not a reason to panic, because the hair will grow back again. Moreover, don't get disappointed if your hair growth seems delayed. It varies from individual to individual. If your hair loss is worrying you, talk to your doctor, who will explain things to you in detail. All the best!
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.