What Helps Hair Growth After Chemo: 7 Tips & Story of My Mom’s Curls
I was in 9th grade when my mom came back one day and casually said that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My whole world shattered to pieces.
A few weeks later she had to start chemo and we were discussing what to do with her long curly hair. In her words, the first few treatments were not that horrible. Of course, she was sick and felt pain, but at that time she wasn’t losing her hair yet. However, my mom said that she don’t want to feel her curls falling out so she decided to shave her head instead.
That same evening she was shaving her head with my dad’s hair clipper.
The treatment was successful and after some time she was searching for the info on what helps hair growth after chemo. I’m going to share with you what she has found, tried, and tested during that time.
My mom’s curls grow back and look better than ever! What helps hair growth after chemo? Read on!
Does your hair grow back after chemo?
Yes, it does! Expect your hair to grow back after 3 to 6 months after the last chemo treatment. Sometimes hair can even start to re-grow during chemotherapy but that depends on your treatment.
You might hear that hair grows slower after chemo and that’s true. Your hair follicles and whole body may be lacking nutrients after this harsh treatment.
It’s extremely rare to become permanently bald after chemo so don’t worry about that. However, your new hair might have a different color and texture. This happens because chemotherapy might damage your hair follicles and your hair texture depends on it. Sometimes it’s only temporary but most of the time these changes are permanent.
Why is my hair growing back while on chemo?
It means that not all your hair follicles are damaged and they keep going. It’s not an indication that the treatment is not working.
At first, it might be patchy and sparse but after the chemo when you start to recover you will see the new hair all over your scalp.
Some chemo treatments will make your skin itchy, dry, and red, it might even start to peel. Use oil or a good hydrating lotion to avoid these side effects.
The same goes for the skin of your scalp. Take good care of it and you will start seeing your hair re-growing in no time.
Stages of hair growth after chemo
This process depends on how your whole body was affected by the treatment. Here are the generic hair growth stages after chemo:
#1 Fuzzy thin hair
1-2 months after chemo you might expect your hair to be very soft and thin.
#2 Hair starts to thicken
After 2 or 3 months you will notice that your hair is thicker than before.
#3 Your hair is now one inch long!
After 3 months (or more) you can expect to have short but thick hair.
#4 You have 2-3 inches long hair
Half a year passed by and now you probably have short hair. Bald patches are disappearing. If you had short hair before you probably look like your old self.
#5 You can brush and style your hair
After a year your hair is long enough to style and brush! It might have a different shade or texture but it is still a big win.
How long after chemo does hair grow back
As mentioned above, your hair will probably be 2-3 inches long after 6 months. You can expect it to be 4 to 6 inches long after a year.
The normal rate of hair growth is 1 inch per two months but it can be slower because of chemo. Stay calm and patient, take good care of your scalp and you will have even healthier hair than you had before.
A big study that involved 1,470 people revealed that on average, patients’ hair started growing back 3.3 months after the last treatment. The interesting part is that 13% of the participants said that their hair started growing even before treatment ended.
How to grow hair after chemo: 7 Simple Tips
And here is the most important part of the article! How to grow hair after chemo fast and are there any ways to stimulate hair growth after chemotherapy?
My mom was wearing a wig during the treatment but she really tried to keep her scalp hydrated and healthy. She is willing to share her secrets with you!
#1 Avoid rubbing essential oils directly into your scalp
Your skin would probably be irritated and dry after chemo so you have to be as gentle as possible with it.
Putting essential oils directly on the skin of your scalp may cause contact dermatitis, irritation, burning, and headaches. Instead, dilute them with a carrier oil (for example, olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil).
Essential oils, such as peppermint or rosemary, are proven to stimulate hair follicles and therefore promote hair growth but you always have to dilute them. However, if you don’t want to rub oil into your scalp, you can try using DIY rosemary water.
Rosemary water can be an all-natural substitute for minoxidil (Rogaine) which doctors are frequently recommending after chemotherapy.
SubjectCurls has a guide about DIY rosemary water and the results of using it.
#2 Massage your scalp every day
My mom swears that scalp massages were the thing that helped her the most after chemo.
All you have to do is to massage your hair every morning or evening for around 5 minutes. There is a study who proven that massaging your scalp helps your hair to grow faster and even increases hair thickness.
You can only use your fingertips and nothing more or you can massage your scalp with oil. For example, you can take diluted rosemary or peppermint oil.
Before using essential oils consult with your doctor as it can give you an allergic reaction.
#3 Test for nutritional deficiencies
Your body goes through a lot during the treatment, therefore there is a chance that you lack vitamins & minerals, such as zinc, iron, and biotin.
Talk with your doctor and ask to run a blood test. Zinc, iron, and biotin are all responsible for healthy skin, nails, and hair. They are also important for optimal hair health and hair growth.
#4 Use mild hair care products
You can try using a conditioning wash instead of regular shampoo as it is more moisturizing. Always finish your routine with a hair conditioner.
Keep your scalp well hydrated and healthy and you will see the baby hairs growing in no time. Healthy hair starts from a healthy scalp!
#5 Cover your head
Keep your head warm if it’s cold outside and avoid sun damage to your scalp if it’s warm.
Your scalp must be protected as the heat from the sun can be damaging and slow down the hair regrowth process. Use a scarf, beanie, or a hat and an SPF 50 when it’s hot and sunny outside.
You can also try hyaluronic acid for your scalp.
#6 Avoid heat and harsh treatments
When your hair starts to regrow it might be tempting to color it pink, yellow, or blue. However, it might be too harsh and damage your hair follicles.
The same goes for hair dryers, straighteners, curlers, and so on. Your scalp would be very sensitive so you have to be gentle on it. Heat can burn and irritate your head.
#7 Drink water
This is important for your hair, skin, and mental well-being.
Stay hydrated as it helps to fight chemotherapy dehydration. It can help to minimize constipation and extreme fatigue during the treatment. Water also can help to strengthen your hair and increase hair growth.
Does wearing a wig slow down new hair growth?
No, it’s a myth and there is no evidence to support this statement.
When can I color my new hair?
We recommend you wait at least 4-6 months before coloring your hair. Your skin might be too sensitive for that after the treatment. Always do a skin sensitivity test prior.
How to stimulate hair growth after chemo?
Be gentle and patient. Start massaging your scalp as frequently as possible and use various hair oils to stimulate hair growth.
What food is good for hair growth after chemotherapy?
Eat fatty fish, lean protein, berries, nuts, leafy greens, eggs, and avocados. These foods are full of zinc, biotin, and iron which are important for healthy hair.
Is coconut oil good for hair growth after chemo?
Coconut oil is great if you want to keep your scalp healthy and moisturized. Try adding a few drops of rosemary, peppermint, or lavender essential oil for the best results.
Going through chemo is hard for various reasons, one of them being hair loss.
What helps hair growth after chemo? Be gentle on your scalp, use oils, massage your scalp daily, drink enough water, and eat nutritious food.
You would probably see your first baby hair after a few months after the treatment is over but expect your hair growth to return to normal within 12 months after chemo.