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If you have cancer, you may not only be dealing with physical pain but also going through a lot of mental turmoil. Though cancer is a dreaded demon in the world of medical ailments, various advancements in the medical sciences have made medications and therapies available. If you have cancer, chemotherapy is something that may help you get cured. However, this can take a toll on your health and cause some side-effects that may include myelosuppression, mucositis and alopecia or loss of hair. In this post, we talk about ways to deal with hair growth after chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy and Hair Loss – What You Need to Know
Chemotherapy involves using drugs that help in rapidly killing increasing cancerous cells. However, the drug cannot distinguish between healthy cells and cancerous cells, thus it kills both kinds of cells in the process. This could affect your hair follicles and cause hair loss from your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, armpits, etc. Once the chemotherapy gets over, the hair follicles start getting repaired and the hair starts going. Here is some information that you need to know about chemo and hair loss:
- It is not necessary that you will experience hair loss when you undergo chemo.
- You may lose hair only from one place or all over your body.
- The pace at which hair grows may vary from person to person.
- You may start losing your hair as soon as you start with chemo or after a couple of sessions.
- Your hair may start growing while your treatment is on or a few months after your treatment gets over.
- In case you experience total hair loss, you will lose hair from all parts of your body such as eyebrows, eyelashes, genital areas, etc.
- Your hair may just thin out or you may lose your hair in clumps.
Hair Growth Timeline after Chemotherapy
Hair re-growth majorly depends on how adversely your scalp has been affected by the chemo drugs. Here is the general re-growth timeline after chemo that will help you understand how your hair would start growing back:
1. Fuzzy Soft Hair
The first kind of hair that will start growing will be very soft and fuzzy and this growth can start two or three weeks after the end of chemotherapy.
2. Re-Growth of Hair
Hair can start growing approximately one month after chemo.
3. Around One Inch
Your hair may grow up to this length approximately two to three months after chemotherapy.
4. Around Two to Three Inches
You may be able to have this length of hair approximately six months after the therapy.
5. Substantial Length
The length of hair that you can comb through or a sizable length of hair may grow after a year.
The above-mentioned is the general timeline; however, your scalp condition, hair health, age, etc are other factors that affect how your hair will grow back. However, you can make efforts to stimulate hair growth.
Ways to Stimulate Hair Growth after Chemo
Irrespective of the quality and health of your hair, chemo may take a toll on your hair growth. If you have experienced hair loss, there are certain ways in which you can stimulate your hair growth:
1. Take Vitamins and Minerals
One of the best ways of making up for hair loss is by taking vitamins and minerals. You can include food items that are rich in vitamins and minerals, which means consuming them in their natural form or taking supplements for the same. Biotin, which is a water-soluble vitamin, is great for triggering thick hair growth. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are beneficial for healthy hair follicles and Vitamin B is effective in improving blood circulation to your scalp.
2. Eat High-Protein Foods
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for the hair because our hair is made up of protein. Including plant proteins and animal proteins in your diet can help in growing back your tresses at a faster pace. Some of the high-protein foods include meat, tofu, eggs, milk, lentils etc. Make sure you avoid any added sugar or saturated fats.
3. Include Inositol
Inositol is a simple carbohydrate that can prove to be beneficial in improving your hair growth. This nutrient helps in improving the functioning of scalp cells, which eventually lead to better hair growth. Some of the foods that are a rich source of this essential nutrient include nuts, leafy vegetables, whole grains, citrus fruits, etc.
4. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used for improving hair re-growth after chemo. You can directly apply essential oils such as ylang-ylang, bergamot, rosemary, lavender etc and massage your scalp with it. These oils are not only great for nourishing the hair follicles but they also strengthen hair roots.
5. Take Fatty Acids
You can include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements to speed up your hair growth. Fatty acids are a boon for your hair and can fasten hair re-growth after chemo. You can also include foods that are rich in these fatty acids, such as salmon fish, herrings fish, flax seeds, etc.
Apart from these tips, it is also important that you do not use any harsh chemical, hair styling products or any colours on your scalp. Use gentle products for cleaning and taking care of your scalp.
Your mind may be flooded with a number of questions related to chemo hair loss. In this section, we discuss some common queries regarding hair loss and chemo:
1. When Will My Hair Grow Back after Chemo?
Your hair may begin to grow back a few weeks after your chemo gets over. The initial growth of your hair may not be the same and may appear quite different. However, as time passes, your hair will start growing and within a year it may become of a sizable length.
2. Will My Hair Look Different after it Grows Back?
It is very normal for you to have different textured or different coloured hair after chemo because the drug had attacked your hair follicles and it may take time for your normal hair to grow back. It is quite likely that straight hair may grow all curly and if you had curly hair before, they may become straight.
3. My New Hair Has a Different Texture and Colour. Will it Stay Like This?
It is very common for people to have curly hair growth, which is also known as ‘chemo curls’. However, this may or may not change back to your normal hair texture. But there have been incidents where women reported changes in the texture of their hair after a year. Also, you may have a lighter or darker colour of hair than your usual.
4. Will My Hair Grow More Slowly If I Continue to Wear My Scarf or Hat?
No, this is a myth. Your headgear like scarf or hat does not affect how your hair grows. Your hair grows inside outwards and headgears have nothing to do with how they grow. The way your hair grows and how fast it grows will depend on your hair roots.
5. Can I Prevent Hair Loss During Chemotherapy?
There have been studies that indicate that if blood flow is hindered to the scalp by using a process called scalp cooling, it may prevent hair loss to an extent. However, it may not work in all cases because chemo varies from case to case.
6. Can I Rely on Hair Growth Remedies for Faster Hair Growth after Chemo?
There are many supplements or creams available that you can use to improve the growth of your hair. However, even if you do not use any of these remedies, your hair will grow at a normal pace and soon you may have your tresses back. But if you wish to use these kinds of remedies, it will be a good idea to get in touch with your doctor and take a suggestion on what may work for you.
7. Can Chemo Cause Permanent Hair Loss?
Hair loss can occur with chemotherapy and your tresses would usually grow back after sometime. Permanent hair loss is a very rare phenomenon but you may notice bald patches on your scalp. Your hair will usually grow back but the texture and density may not be the same as before.
The best approach to get healthy after cancer is by having a positive approach towards your treatment and putting all your worries aside. We hope this article helped you in understanding more about hair re-growth after chemo. Happy healing!