Hair regrowth after chemo can seem difficult, but with proper guidance, you can regrow your hair back after chemotherapy. See some of the post chemotherapy hair regrowth pictures below showing before and after chemo. Also learn how to grow hair after chemotherapy.
It is disheartening to look at the mirror and see that bald head after chemo. So is it possible to grow hair back after chemo? How long does it take for hair regrowth after chemo? Read on to find out more about hair regrowth after chemotherapy and to see some pictures of people who have bravely borne the stages of hair loss associated with chemotherapy.
Is It Possible to Grow Hair Back After Chemo?
One of the most common questions asked in online forums is, “Is it possible to grow hair back after chemo?” The answer to this question is YES, the hair loss associated with chemo is usually temporary and it is expected that your normal hair will regrow after the chemo has been stopped in most cases. The hair that initially grows after the chemo is however usually weak due to lack of protein.
It is obvious that the next answer in the mind of most people is how long it takes for post chemo hair regrowth to occur. Well, you can expect soft fuzz that feels like baby hair in 2 to 3 weeks after chemotherapy is over and real hair to start growing one month down the line. The hair is expected to hit about an inch or so in 2 months time, progressing into a full head of hair in around 3-6 months.
As Mario Lacouture, MD, Director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Dermatologic Care Center at Northwestern University, Chicago says, “if regrowth is not happening that quickly, talk to your doctor about the likely causes”. Some common culprits include low levels of iron and zinc, stress, and thyroid problems.
It deserves to be mentioned however that hair regrowth after chemo is not always guaranteed and although very rarely, chemotherapy can lead to permanent baldness especially if strong chemotherapy treatment is administered for many years. This can burn the hair follicles, limiting any new growth of hair. If that happens, weaves, wigs and other head gears can come in handy for the patient.
Hair Regrowth after Chemotherapy
Of all the side effects normally associated with chemotherapy hair loss is the most obvious. And given the fact that the hair is an important fashion and beauty element for most people, hair regrowth after chemotherapy means the whole world to most, if not all patients.
The pattern of hair regrowth after chemotherapy varies from one patient to another. While some patients regrow hair similar to their original hair in terms of color and texture, others may regrow hair that looks relatively different in that context.
For example, the hair may be grayer, straighter, curlier, or thicker than it was prior to the chemotherapy treatment. Bands of pigmentation may also show in some hair shafts and the hair may look patchy on the scalp. Such hair will in most cases ultimately grow back to the natural texture and color after the hair follicles recover from the effects of chemotherapy.
No matter how your hair looks, it is advisable to talk to a dermatologist or oncologist before using any chemical treatment on your hair including perming, dying, and bleaching. Some of these chemicals may otherwise have undesirable effects on your hair. Imagine having a dark green coloration on your hair when it was not even close to what your outcome was.
Post chemo hair regrowth and management tips
Let’s now discuss some helpful tips that can help you to quicken the pace of regrowth and manage the growing hair after chemotherapy.
Handle your hair gently: The post-chemo hair is often weak due to low protein and should thus be treated gently. You will in particular want to avoid harsh combing and brushing and set your hair dryer to gentle heat rather than high heat.
Paddle brushes that come with nodules on the bristles are recommended for use on your new hair as it does a great job at massaging your scalp and hair. This enhances the production of sebum while stimulating blood circulation in the scalp.
Trim your fuzzy hair regularly: Hair regrowth after chemotherapy can be improved by trimming it regularly. Ken Paves, a celebrity hair stylist who has worked with celebrities such as Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Simpson recommends trimming your fuzzy hair as soon as you can grasp it between your fingers.
Use appropriate shampoos: You should consider staying away from shampoos that contain sulfates (e.g. sodium lauryl sulfate) and instead use those with natural plant oils such as jojoba and almond, UV filters, antioxidants e.g. fennel and green tea( to protect the hair from the harmful effects of free radicals)
Avoid tight hair styles: These can place unnecessary strain on the hair
Maintain a healthy scalp: healthy scalp is important for optimum hair regrowth after chemotherapy. Adequate amounts of nutrients are also necessary for hair growth and are supplied to the hair strands through the scalp.
Unfortunately, chemotherapy can make the scalp very dry and scaly. Luckily there are many products out there that can help the scalp by supplying essential nutrients while protecting it from harmful environmental factors.
These are typically shampoos or aqueous creams. You may consider using the aqueous creams until your hair has grown long enough to allow use of shampoos.
Some ingredients to look for in scalp treatments are:
- Biotin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and thiamine HCL. These are vitamins in the B-complex that are important for healthy hair).
- Aloe Vera, Rosemary, Geranium and Chamomile. these have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic properties and soothes the scalp
- Antioxidants such as Fennel, tocopherol and green tea. These protect the scalp from harmful effects of free radicals
- Proteins e.g. wheat amino acids, hydrolyzed wheat protein and hydrolyzed keratin. They help in strengthening the hair
Wait six months before coloring your hair: Medical experts suggest allowing the post chemotherapy hair at least six months before coloring it. This is because the newly grown hair is weak and the scalp is typically sensitive during this early stage.
Even after this time has elapsed it is advisable for the hair stylist to perform skin sensitivity test to test for allergic reaction and a wet stretch test to determine the elasticity and strength of the hair before applying the coloring product.
Hair Regrowth after Chemo Pictures
(See pictures on this page). A wise man once said that a picture speaks a thousand words and I can’t agree more; I could have said the same had he not done it. And what a better way to speak the thousand words about hair regrowth after chemo than with before and after pictures of chemo patients who have successfully borne the battle against the hair loss that is often associated with chemotherapy.