Why does chemo affect hair? How long after chemo does hair grow back? If you are worried about such questions, here is some important information for you.

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Chemotherapy is popular for its side effects and hair loss is one of them. Many people are worried about hair loss during cancer treatments and have plenty of questions in mind. In this article, let us look at such questions about chemotherapy and hair loss.

Why Do I Lose My Hair On Chemo?

Why Do I Lose My Hair On Chemo?

Chemotherapy uses strong medications that aim at destroying cancer cells, but they also attack the normal cells in the body. As cancer cells grow rapidly, anti-cancer medicines particularly attack rapidly growing cells in the body. Cell of the hair roots and those of hair follicles, which help our hair grow are such rapidly growing cells. Due to the effect of chemotherapy drugs, these cells are also destroyed, which is why thinning of hair, hair loss or other problems of hair are commonest side effects of chemo.

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However, not all people undergoing chemotherapy experience hair loss. This is because, there are various types of cancer and it affects people in various ways. Similarly the treatment or chemo regimen for each type of cancer varies. It depends a lot on the type, stage and severity of a particular cancer in addition to health, age and other parameters of the patient. So the way chemo affects one’s hair varies from person to person. Some may begin to lose hair within few weeks of starting the treatment, while some may experience only mild thinning even by the end of the chemotherapy course. Some find greying of hair, while for some hair may become sparse and dull.

People often note clumps of hair on pillow or comb and with increased hair loss, the scalp may become tender and sensitive. While it may not hurt, some people do experience scalp pain, while some may feel slight itching and irritation.

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How Long After Chemo Does Hair Grow Back?

Hair loss is undoubtedly a distressing side effect of chemo and every glimpse in the mirror reminds of the struggle that is going on from within. People commonly worry and ask about how long after chemo does hair grow back? The answer too lies in the fact that chemo affects everyone differently. Similarly the rate and the way in which hair will grow back after chemo too varies. While most people experience some side effects of hair within two to four weeks of beginning chemotherapy, for some, the problem may continue during the entire treatment. Hair loss may even continue for some time after the treatment is over, due to the lasting effects of the chemo drugs.

When you consider the question, how long after chemo does hair grow back, the answer is that hair begin to grow back after the chemotherapy treatment is over. For some, it may begin within few weeks, while some may notice hair growth after several weeks after the treatment is over. Surprisingly, for some people, it is very much possible that hair begin to grow back towards the end of their chemo treatment. Thus, it all depends on the health, severity of the condition and the treatment regimen.

It is also interesting to know that when hair begin to grow back, they may have a different appearance than the original hair. Some may notice growth of curly hair, while some may have grey hair or some can even have a different shade. Some may have thicker hair and some have softer hair than what they had before. These variations are possible, often because the hair growth takes time to normalize and the hair pigment may stabilize after some period.

However, on an average, within four to six months of completing chemotherapy, hair are grown back. For those who have experienced only thinning of hair during chemotherapy, too may notice better hair growth within few months of completion of treatment.

How To Care For Hair While On Chemo?

Hair loss is common during chemotherapy. Here are some tips to manage hair loss or hair thinning with chemo.

One of the most important part is managing hair fall during chemo. Care for your hair, comb gently and use gentle hair products. Avoid using hair dryers, curls or similar tools that can damage hair. Avoid scratching the scalp or hairline even if there is itching. Consider using moisturizer for skin, hair oil or seek medical advice to resolve itching scalp.

You can consider wearing a scarf or cap to protect your hair and scalp. Wear a hair net or loosely cover it when sleeping to avoid feeling anxious about hair fallen on the pillow after waking up. Avoid extreme temperatures; cover and protect hair and scalp from sunlight and also during cold weather. If it bothers much, you may discuss with your physician about the need and safety of using medicines or other products to control hair loss during chemo.

If you are worried about hair loss and wish to consider a wig, it is better to check for one beforehand to match the color and texture of original hair. Owing to the anxiety and distress attached to hair loss with chemotherapy, some people try to have a new look by having a haircut or shaving off the hair completely.

While these are just temporary arrangements, with successful completion of chemotherapy treatment, most people can hope for good new hair. About answering the question, how long after chemo does hair grow back - hair growth after chemotherapy varies but generally for most people, hair may grow back within four to six months after chemo. However, for some it may be faster while for some it may take time to normalize hair growth.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 31, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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