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Hair Growth After Chemotherapy

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/18/2010

Cancer patients can expect hair growth after chemotherapy to resume in the months following the conclusion of the treatment. As the gradual process of hair re-growth takes place, people can use several care and maintenance tips to keep their new strands of hair healthy.

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    Hair growth after chemotherapy sessions are fully completed takes time and requires patience on the part of the affected individual. Typically, hair that is lost during chemotherapy returns at varied rates--most people can first expect to regain hair on the head and then notice the re-growth of eyebrows, lashes, and body hair. People who are experiencing this process after chemotherapy can be proactive in caring for their hair as it steadily grows in.

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    Chemotherapy And Hair Loss

    Many people lose some or all of their hair as they receive chemotherapy. The amount of hair loss may vary depending on which type of chemotherapy drugs are administered. Cancer patients who are treated with the following chemotherapy medications will likely experience hair loss.

    Taxol causes hair to fall out abruptly, and patients typically lose a good deal of hair at one specific time.

    Cytoxan causes hair on the head to thin significantly.

    Adriamycin initially causes hair to thin, and after several weeks, causes extensive hair loss to occur.

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    Hair Re-Growth: What To Expect

    Typically, hair on the head will start growing a few weeks after a round of chemotherapy treatments is completed. This timetable of hair growth is a general estimate--some people will experience hair growth at a faster rate than others.

    Two to three weeks after treatment ends: At this stage, hair growth is minimal and resembles "peach fuzz".

    A month after treatment ends: "Fuzz" starts to change into real strands of hair. The rate of hair growth prior to chemotherapy treatment resumes.

    Two months after treatment ends: Hair is approximately one inch in length. The new hair growth may differ in texture or color from the hair that was lost.

    Six months to a year after treatment ends: Most people regain the original texture of their hair.

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    Hair Health and Maintenance Tips

    As new hair growth is developing, a person should strive to keep the scalp and hair follicles healthy. These self-care tips are easy to follow and designed to protect and encourage the growth of new hair.

    Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Choose hair-cleaning products that are designed for dry, fine, or damaged hair. Shampoo and condition hair every few days.

    Massage and moisturize the scalp. Remove scaly skin from the scalp with regular massages, and protect the scalp with a gentle moisturizer.

    Don't curl or blow-dry hair. High-temperature air can damage new hair growth and hot curling devices can injure the hair and scalp.

    Use minimal amounts of hair product. As hair is growing in, try to limit the use of hairspray, gel, and other products that might build up on the scalp.

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    Though the experience of waiting for hair growth after chemotherapy can be frustrating for some people, over time most individuals will regain healthy hair on the scalp and body. Hair loss is a bothersome side effect of how chemotherapy works, but after all treatments are concluded, cancer survivors can take steps to promote strong hair growth and can look forward to new hairs appearing and lengthening.

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    References

    1) WebMD--http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/chemotherapy

    2) BreastCancer.org--http://www.breastcancer.org/tips/hair_skin_nails/regrowth.jsp

    3) American Hair Loss Council--http://www.ahlc.org/causes-c.htm

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