Hair growth after chemo could be a priority for those who have just finished this intense and difficult treatment. Chemotherapy targets not only the cancer cells but the healthy cells in your body, including hair roots, which is why hair loss after chemo is a common occurrence. The dosage of the chemotherapy medication you receive will determine whether or not you have hair loss.
The good news is, hair loss from chemotherapy is temporary. Once the chemo stops, your hair will grow back to normal within three to ten months. Your hair may be of differ shade and texture though. It could be curlier, and shafts may have bands of pigmentation. It could be grayer than it was before until the cells that control the pigment begin to function again.
Two to three weeks after the chemo therapy ends, a soft fuzz will develop, but one month later; real hair starts to grow at its normal rate. After two months, you should have about an inch of hair growth. Basically, the hair that fell out first is the hair that grows back faster. Meaning, your hair on the head will grow before your eyebrows or eyelashes.
Hair care techniques and products to stimulate hair growth after chemo
No treatment can prevent hair loss during or after chemotherapy. The best way to deal with the impending hair loss is to plan ahead. Here are some hair care techniques and products to help you grow your hair faster.
Use gentle products as your hair grows back. Choose a shampoo that contains ingredients like niacin to improve circulation in the scalp and salicylic acid to clean the scalp. Look for ingredients that reduce DHT as it can cause hair loss.
Do not go for shampoos that contain harsh chemicals like sodium laurl sulfate. This is like a bleach that can cause hair follicle miniaturization and can be toxic if absorbed through your skin. Use a shampoo that contains biotin, cysteine and proteins. One of the best shampoo out there is DS Laboratories Revita Hair Growth Stimulating Shampoo.
You are encouraged to use Minoxidil (Rogaine) before and during chemotherapy. It is a hair growth stimulant that widens the follicle when used properly. While it will not prevent hair loss, Minoxidil is effective in hair regrowth after chemo. Minoxidil was first used as an antihypertensive tablet, but it was noticed that patients taking it developed excessive hair growth as a side effect. Further research also showed that applying minoxidil solution to the scalp can stimulate hair growth. Two percent concentration is for men and women, but 5 percent use is for men only. It takes up to four months before new hair is noticeable.
Nizoral shampoo is an anti-dandruff shampoo that helps unclog hair follicles to allow healthy growth. It contains ketoconazole an antifungal medication. Ketoconazole blocks the action of DHT hormone that blocks the hair follicles from receiving nutrients.
Tricomin can be used alone or in conjunction with Rogaine to help promote hair growth. It comes in a shampoo, conditioner, and follicle therapy spray. Tricomin uses peptides to shorten the resting phase of the hair follicle and has been proven to stimulate hair growth.
Our hair is essentially made up of protein. Eating high-protein foods like beans, meats, lentils, and eggs are very crucial to regrowing your hair quickly. Eat a well-balanced diet to promote hair growth after chemo. Hair growth vitamins like vitamin B, Amino Acids and herbs are essential aspects for healthy hair.
A regimen of certain vitamins can help restore hair. To nourish your hair, try to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet to speed up its growth. B vitamins can influence cell turnover and help stimulate circulation. Vitamin C can strengthen follicles, while Vitamin E helps promote capillary growth. Supplement your diet with vitamins B6 and B12 for faster hair regrowth. Beta carotene can also help protect the fibers of your hair.
Individuals who have completed chemotherapy treatments know that hair regrowth typically takes several weeks or even months depending on genetics and age. One of the ways to expedite the hair growth process after chemo is to avoid washing and rinsing your hair in extremely hot water as this can damage the hair follicles. Use cool water instead.
A widely used remedy can be found in most kitchens like olive oil. It can be used straight from the bottle. Take two capful of oil and massage it into the scalp. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair regrowth.
Find a competent hair stylist. She can offer advice and help find the finest solutions for your specific hair and which style looks best on you. She can recommend treatment products to help your hair restore its natural volume and luster.
Once you can grasp your hair between your fingers, it’s time for a trim, says celebrity hairstylist Ken Paves, who has designed looks for Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, and Celine Dion. By eliminating frizzy ends, you will help keep your hair look healthy.
Before you color, bleach, or perm your hair, consult your oncologist or dermatologist.
You can consider scalp hypothermia or cryotherapy during your chemotherapy by placing an ice pack on your head to slow blood flow to your scalp. Chemotherapy drugs are less likely to affect your scalp. While scalp hypothermia has worked for a majority of people who tried it, but it may cause a small risk of cancer recurring in your scalp because it doesn’t receive the same amount of chemotherapy dose as the rest of the body.
Penguin Cold Caps have been around for over 30 years, but became popular only recently. Penguin cold cap is worn by chemotherapy patients every 30 minutes for seven hours on the day that they will receive the treatment. The caps are filled with a silicon gel and chilled to -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold caps have been known to help retain about 70 percent of the patient’s hair. The theory is that the blood flow diminishes below freezing temperature and narrows the blood vessels to keep the chemotherapy drugs from traveling up the hair follicle.
Inositol can help regenerate healthy hair cells. Eating foods high in Inositol such as beans, whole-grain bread, brown rice, cantaloupe, wheat germ, nuts, liver, citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables promotes health cellular growth and helps your scalp generate hair cells. Inositol can be consumed in food or taken as supplements. Inositol is also found in cereals and is called phytic acid, which is Inositol mixed with phosphorus.
Hair loss during chemotherapy cannot be prevented, but it can be managed by following these tips:
- Before the chemotherapy treatment, be gentle to your hair. Don’t bleach, color or perm your hair because this can weaken it. Avoid hot rollers or curling irons. Air dry your hair. If you strengthen your hair now, it is more likely to stay in your head longer during chemotherapy.
Try to consider cutting your hair. Shorter hair looks fuller, and it won’t be as noticeable when your hair starts to fall out. It will help you make a better transition to total hair loss. Plan for a head covering. It is time to start thinking about scarves or wigs to conceal your hair loss. Your doctor can write a prescription for a wig if you ask for it.
- During your chemotherapy treatment, you should baby your remaining hair. Continue using gentle shampoo and soft hair brushes, and only wash your hair when necessary. Continue these hair strategies throughout your chemotherapy treatments. Consider shaving your head. Many people complain about itchy and irritated scalp during their treatment and while their hair is falling out.
Shave your hair to reduce the irritation. This could also save you from embarrassment of shedding. This is better than patchy hair loss you might experience. Protect your scalp. Protect your head with sunscreen and a head covering if you are going to be exposed to the sun or too cold air. During treatment, your scalp may be sensitive to sunshine or extreme cold. A head covering can make you comfortable.
- After the chemotherapy treatment, continue with gentle hair care. Hold off on coloring or bleaching until your hair grows stronger. Processing could damage your new hair and irritate your sensitive scalp. Be patient because it takes time for your hair to grow back slowly and look normal.
Chemotherapy is a life-saving treatment. Hair loss is one of the things cancer patients fear most because they are associated with trauma and treatments. Thankfully, there are many ways to help stimulate hair growth after chemo to speed up the process.
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