Does Hair Grow Back After Chemo
Many cancer patients have questions and concerns about hair loss and hair regrowth after chemo. The degree of hair loss during treatments depends on factors including the type of chemotherapy, dosage, frequency of treatment, and the manner in which it is administered. The good news is chemotherapy-induced hair loss is nearly always reversible. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for chemos many side effects, including hair loss. Ask your cancer team what type of chemotherapy drug they plan on administering, about the side effects, and for scientific data backing up its efficacy. Of course the most important thing is to select a drug that delivers the most optimal patient outcomes, whether it causes hair loss or not.
Hair Loss From Chemo: What To Expect
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Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy targets cells that divide and grow quicklya feature of cancer cells. Chemo affects hair cells because they also divide and grow quickly.
Though hair can fall out from this treatment, its important to remember that it does grow back in most cases. These frequently asked questions tell you more about what to expect.
About Hair Loss From Treatment
Some cancer treatments may make your hair fall out completely. This may be from your head and other parts of your body. This is usually temporary. Other treatments can cause permanent hair loss in specific areas of your body. Sometimes you may not lose all your hair, but your hair can become thinner or more likely to break .
There are practical steps you can take to reduce hair loss during treatment, including scalp cooling.
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Caring For Your Hair And Head
Here are some ways you can care for your hair and head while youre experiencing hair loss:
- Wash and condition your hair every 2 to 4 days. Use baby shampoo or other mild shampoo . You should also use a cream rinse or hair conditioner.
- Use shampoos and conditioners that have sunscreen to prevent sun damage to your scalp.
- Always rinse your hair well and pat it dry with a soft towel.
- Wash your hair after swimming in a pool.
- Dont expose your scalp to the sun.
- Keep your head covered in the summer.
- In the winter, cover your head with a hat, scarf, turban, or wig to keep it warm. This can also help to catch falling hair.
- Sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase. These are smoother than other fabrics and can decrease hair tangles.
- Brush or comb your hair gently with a soft-bristle brush or comb. Start brushing or combing your hair at the ends and gently work your way up to your scalp. You can also comb through your hair with your fingers. Wet your fingers with water first.
- If your hair is long, you may want to have it cut short before you begin treatment.
- Tell your hairdresser that youre receiving chemotherapy. They may be able to recommend gentle hair products.
- Try using Bumble and bumble Hair Powder to cover bald spots and thinning areas of your hair. You can buy it at Sephora® or online from various beauty supply websites.
Dont use the following on your hair during treatment because they can be too harsh or pull on your hair:
When Will Your Hair Grow Back
The time it takes for noticeable hair regrowth after chemo varies from person-to-person. That being said, generally you will begin to notice your hair growing back after two to three weeks, albeit only slightly. After around a month or so your hair should begin to grow naturally at a normal rate, and after around two months post-chemo, you hair will be around an inch in length. It is important to note that hair in other areas that may have fallen out, such as the eye lashed, may take longer to grow back than hair on the head.
For Whole Brain Radiation
If you underwent whole brain radiation and lost your hair as a result then you will likely experience a longer time waiting before noticing any hair growth. This type of treatment is more damaging to the hair follicles than chemotherapy, meaning it can take up to six months before even an inch of hair grows. The new hair may also be thinner, and there is a chance of a bald spot appearing.
The effect of Tamoxifen on the hair will last as long as the drug is administered, which can sometimes be for five year durations. That being said, it is possible for the thinning of the hair caused by this medication to subside a year into the treatment.
The video below shows the week-by-week progress of hair growth after chemotherapy:
Can Hair Grow Back After Chemo
As you grow, most of your cells are constantly dividing through a process called cell multiplication.
When you become an adult, this occurs less frequently, only when your body needs to repair itself. However, some normal cells continue to multiply quickly, including those that must constantly grow or renew themselves, such as bone marrow, skin, the lining of the digestive tract, and hair follicles.
Chemotherapy drugs identify and target cells that reproduce quickly, regardless of whether they are cancerous or not. This is why chemo causes side effects such as hair loss. Because some types of chemo attack not only cancer cells but also cells that multiply quickly, those drugs are more likely to cause hair loss.
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If you are receiving a chemo that is likely to damage hair follicles , hair loss usually begins about 2 weeks after treatment begins. Hair loss can range from thinning of the hair on your head to loss of all body hair. Damage to these normal cells is usually temporary. Chemo-induced hair loss may be reduced by stopping or slowing the absorption of these drugs into the hair follicles. Once chemo has ended and the follicles are repaired, the hair begins to grow back. Sometimes the new hair is quite different from the original hair in texture or color. It may even be more or less curly.
What Happens After Chemo
You should begin to see hair regrowth a few weeks after your chemotherapy ends. Be prepared for a little shock the initial growth is going to look different. Unless youve undergone chemo before, you very likely havent grown your hair out from complete baldness.
The first inch or so of growth tends to stand straight up for people of European, Native American, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian descent. For people of African descent, the new hair usually curls over after the first stage of growth.
That said, people have reported many different kinds of regrowth. Some people have curlier hair than before, while many others have thinner hair than before. Some peoples hair experiences a reduction in color and shine, or the hair grows out gray. This less lustrous hair is often replaced over the years by hair more similar to your pre-chemo hair, but not always.
Because everyones hair grows differently, its hard to say when your hair will look the way you remember it before you started chemotherapy. Youll probably feel like you have hair again within three months.
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Chemotherapy And Its Effects On Hair
Chemotherapy is the term given to the treatment involving the use of powerful drugs to attack and eliminate fast-dividing cancer cells. When this treatment is administered, there is no prevention in terms of which cells are attacked, meaning that healthy cells can also be affected, such as the cells within the hair follicles, bone marrow, or digestive tract. The effect of chemotherapy on the hair varies depending on what type of treatment is prescribed, and the dosage volume. Below is a list of common drugs used during chemotherapy and their effects on the hair:
- Adriamycin or odoxorubicin has quite an extreme effect on hair, generally causing hair to fall out within the first three weeks, leading to massive hair loss.
- Adrucil or fluorouracil generally does not cause hair loss.
- Cytoxan or cyclosphamide often leads to the thinning of the hair, but generally does not cause hair loss.
- Taxol or paclitaxel may cause quick, extreme hair loss.
It is the unfortunate truth that many areas of the body can lose hair during chemotherapy treatment, including on the scalp, armpits, eyebrows, and eye lashes.
How Soon Can I Colour My Hair After It Grows Back
Its best to wait until your hair is longer and your hair and scalp are in good condition before applying permanent hair colour.
Although there is limited research in this area, Cancer Hair Care recommends you allow at least an inch of hair to grow before colouring it, so you can be sure the hair is of a good quality.
For some people this may be six months to a year, for others it will be sooner.
You can talk to your hairdresser about when to begin colouring your hair. Before you have a permanent hair dye applied your hairdresser should check how your scalp and hair may react by doing a skin-sensitivity test . They may recommend henna or vegetable-based dyes as these tend to be gentler on the hair and scalp.
Temporary or semi-permanent dyes are a good way to find out if a hair colour suits you before you try a permanent colour.
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S From Hair Growing Back After Chemo
Well, its almost been one year since I finished Taxol. Its crazy to see how much Ive changed in eleven months time.
Im still loving my new flat iron, and I now need to section off my hair when styling it because theres so much of it!
The length is also getting to the point where I can tuck it behind my ear. Im really grateful that I can now go without a hat or head covering, especially since its already getting hot here!
Questions To Ask The Health Care Team
You may want to ask your cancer care team the following questions.
Is my specific cancer treatment plan likely to cause hair loss?
If so, when will my hair loss happen? Will I lose hair over time or all at once?
How should I care for my hair and scalp during hair loss?
When will my hair grow back? What can I expect when my hair does return?
Is there a counselor, oncology social worker, or other team member who can help me cope with hair loss?
Are there any programs that provide free or low-cost wigs or other head coverings?
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/ When Will My Hair Start To Grow Back After Chemotherapy
Your hair will start to grow back after your chemotherapy treatment. Some people will notice immediate growth, and in other cases it might take a month or two. But it is equally possible for your hair to start growing back during your treatment. This usually happens just before or during your last chemo treatment. Its also worth remembering that it is a myth that wearing a wig, hats or scarves after chemo prevents your hair from growing back. Your hair will grow back just as quickly with or without headwear. Its up to you to decide when you feel your new hair is long enough to start walking around without a wig or a headscarf.
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Can I Speed Up Hair Regrowth
Many women wonder whether there is anything that can speed up hair regrowth.
The condition of our hair is strongly linked to lifestyle factors including diet. A healthy diet that is balanced and varied provides all the nutrients needed for healthy hair.
There are supplements available that claim to help strengthen hair or promote hair growth. However, there is limited evidence to support this. If you are considering taking any supplements, it is always best to check with your treatment team first, particularly if you are receiving treatment such as chemotherapy or hormone therapy.
Although there is some evidence that caffeine shampoos may promote hair regrowth, there is currently no evidence that these shampoos work for people who have had breast cancer treatment.
There is limited evidence that using a drug called minoxidil may help when applied to the scalp. Minoxidil can also be found in some hair loss treatments. You can talk to your GP, a dermatologist or a trichologist about the possible use of minoxidil.
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When Does Hair Grow Back After Chemo
Keep in mind that your chemo regimen and your genetics will determine how fast your hair grows. I know its hard. But, dont panic if your chemo buddy is rocking a full head of hair and your baby hairs are just sprouting.
Though I was thrilled to have hair on my head again, I was not so thrilled about the hair that quickly sprouted EVERYWHERE else. Legs, face and nether regions look out! Due to the huge influx of hair growth and hormonal acne tied to my hormone blocking meds . I decided to switch to these hair gummies, which worked great. No breakouts or excessive body hair and the hair on my bed kept growing at a good pace.
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Can I Remove My Eyebrows And Eyelashes Before They Fall Out
We dont advise completely removing your eyebrows unless there is a specific reason to do so. This is because the hairs that create your eyebrow may not fall out. If you are having semi-permanent make up and need to remove hair your technician will advise you.
However, if you are someone who normally shapes their brow using a clipper, tweezing or having your eyebrows threaded then that will not normally affect how the new brows grow back. You can carry on with your normal regime if you wish.
Some people, when they lost just half of their eyebrow, decided to remove the remaining hairs as it looked strange to have half a brow. We will give you lots of tips in our make-up section of how to re-create eyebrows.
We never recommend using a razor to completely shave the brow as the eyebrow area is very sensitive and any cuts may cause a problem.
We dont advise removing eyelashes other than gently easing out a hair that is already falling. The eye area is very sensitive and it could cause infection and problems to remove the eyelashes before they fall.
It is okay to gently ease out a lash when you feel it is falling out, for example, when taking off eye make-up.
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New Hair Growth Commonly Asked Questions & Answers
Lets start with the commonly asked questions and answers that will give you an essential overview of new growth following chemotherapy treatment and scalp cooling, plus what to expect and how to plan. If you have experienced external beam radiotherapy to the scalp please read our specific guidance in our Radiotherapy guide.
Will My Hair Grow Back The Same After Chemo
New hair may grow in just like old hair, or it may be thicker, curlier, straighter, or a different color than it was before treatment. Some women who regularly color-treated their hair are surprised when new hair growth is completely gray. Hair texture usually reverts to the way it was after the effects of chemotherapy, radiation, or tamoxifen on the hair follicles wears off completely.
Women should be realistic when regrowing hair after chemo and should expect 2 to 3 months for enough hair growth to sport a short hairstyle.
However, all women have different comfort levels with their new hair length and should wear whichever style makes them the most comfortable. Headwraps, hats, wigs, headscarves, etc, are all used by women at different stages of hair loss and regrowth for different lengths of time. Generally, it takes most women about 5 to 8 months before hair growth is enough for visible texture.
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Fake Lashes And Eyebrows
False eyelashes are a popular choice for people with sparse or no eyelashes. I have two or three really long eyelashes on each eye, one member explained. I have a graduation party to go to, and Im going to see a lot of people. Im going to have to get fake eyelashes.
There are many different styles of false lashes, ranging in thickness, length, and color. Some are dramatic and full, while others offer a more natural look. There are also different methods of application: Some false eyelashes are adhered to the eyelid with temporary glue, while others rely on magnetic eyeliner to stick to the lids.
There are also fake eyebrows available that stick directly onto the skin. They are available in many different shapes, colors, and materials . Talk to your doctor about whether the adhesives used in false eyelashes and stick-on eyebrows are safe for you to use.
When Will I Begin To Lose My Hair
You may start to see your hair thin or fall out 1 to 4 weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment and 4 weeks after you receive radiation therapy.
The amount of hair that falls out or thins depends on the type, dose, and timing of your treatments. The speed at which it falls out also varies from person to person. You may first notice hair on your pillow in the morning or see it when you shower or brush your hair.
Some people will experience hair thinning rather than hair loss. Hair thinning is when your hair feels and looks thinner in texture. Talk with your healthcare team about what to expect after your chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
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