1. How long does it take for hair to grow back after chemotherapy?
2. Will my hair grow back differently after chemotherapy?
3. Can I speed up hair regrowth after chemotherapy?
4. How soon can I colour my hair after it grows back?
5. Donating your wig after your hair grows back
For most people who experience hair loss after starting chemotherapy, their hair almost always starts to grow back once their treatment is over, and sometimes it may even start to grow back before it’s finished. However, some people can experience permanent hair loss.
Hair can sometimes grow back differently to what it was like before treatment, for example:
- the colour may change
- the texture may be different
- it may be curlier
- it may be straighter
This change may only be temporary but occasionally it will be permanent. For some people having hair grow back differently to what they are used to can be very difficult. You may feel it is another change to your appearance that you need to cope with, especially if in the short term you’re not able to treat or style your hair in the way you always have done.
The rate of hair growth varies from person to person but most people will have a full covering of hair after about three to six months, although for some people this can be patchy. It may be weak and fragile or softer to begin with but over time the condition and texture of hair becomes stronger.
Other hair, such as your eyebrows and eyelashes, may grow back more quickly or more slowly than the hair on your head.
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.
While your hair is growing back it will be very delicate and liable to break easily, so it’s best to treat it with care. You can also talk to a hairdresser about how best to look after your hair.
You may also find there is an in-between period when your hair is growing back but you aren’t quite ready to go out with your own hair. You may choose to continue wearing a wig or other headwear until your hair is longer.
Many women wonder whether there is anything that can speed up hair regrowth.
There is some evidence that using a drug called minoxidil, which can also be found in some hair loss treatments, may help when applied to the scalp.
You can talk to your GP, a dermatologist (doctor who specialises in skin problems) or a trichologist (person who specialises in hair loss problems but is not medically trained) about the possible use of minoxidil.
It’s 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 little evidence-based research in this area Cancer Hair Care recommends that as long as your hair and scalp are healthy and you have about 2cm of hair growth it’s fine to go ahead. This is due to scalp sensitivity and the fragility of the new hair growth.
For some people this may be six months to a year, for others it will be sooner. It might be a good idea to discuss with 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. 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 or until you are ready to try a permanent colour.
Once you no longer need your wig you can donate it to an organisation called Wigbank.