If you haven’t had treatment for cancer then you could be forgiven for thinking that the blanket answer on what to expect after chemotherapy is obvious – you may well lose your hair.
Well, this is partly true.
Hair loss, whether inevitable or unexpected, is an up-close-and-personal matter fraught with many mitigating factors. Hair-loss causes are as numerous as the people who experience them, not least of which is when chemotherapy causes extensive hair loss. Cancer treatments kill fast-growing cells and can’t discriminate between healthy and cancerous ones, so your hair is probably going to take a knock.
However, thanks to truly beautiful, natural-looking hair systems available today, movie stars and even those with their own head of hair are using high-quality wigs. You’re actually in great company alongside Ben Affleck, Daniel Craig, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Keira Knightly? And yes, the list goes on.
Nevertheless, we are not minimising your pain, we feel it too and we understand your needs. To that end, we at Hair to Ware are delighted to be in association with the NHS and proud to hold the National NHS framework agreement, which enables us to supply, fit and maintain wigs to all local trusts. We look forward to making you feel wonderful during and after your chemotherapy treatments because you certainly deserve it.
First, though, let’s address some of the concerns we know are on your mind.
Will My Hair Ever Return to Normal After Chemotherapy?
The short answer is, yes, there is a strong likelihood that it will. That includes your eyelashes and brows if they were affected. You are going to have to be patient though but we’ll get to that later. Perhaps ‘back to normal’ isn’t quite appropriate, but let’s discuss that in a bit.
Meantime, there is an innovation you could take advantage of to offset some hair loss while you’re undergoing your chemotherapy treatments.
A Case for the Cold Cap
The great news is that there are things you can do in advance of certain types of chemo to lessen the effects of hair loss.
One brilliant discovery is to keep your scalp cool by wearing a ‘cold cap’ for about 15 – 20 minutes before your cancer treatment. It has the effect of, you guessed it, cooling your scalp, which is why it is also called ‘scalp hypothermia’. This clever countermeasure reduces blood flow to your scalp and obviously then, the number of meds that reach your head. Check this option out with your medical team for suitability.
The Wonder of Wigs
While on the subject of innovation, it is wise to visit a wig specialist about your hair before, rather than after you start chemo. That way they can see what your natural hair is like before and style a wig accordingly. (If, however, you weren’t that fond of your hair anyway, then this is the perfect time to play around with different looks.) Surprise yourself!
Why Does Hair Grow Back Differently After Chemotherapy?
The thing to remember is that chemo affects hair in many ways. It is not uncommon for people who have had nervous breakdowns, for instance, to notice a change in their hair, for instance, going from straight to frizzy. As soon as their nervous system is restored though, their hair usually returns to normal.
Similarly, the effects of chemotherapy, whatever they may be in your case, are but temporary. Give your hair time after chemotherapy is finished. Alright, a long time, a year or two, but your hair will find its way back to you eventually.
The same applies to the typical curly fuzz that patients who have undertaken chemo often experience. It’s just the lingering effects of the chemo meds that alter your hair follicles for a while.
Does Hair Grow Back Grey After Chemotherapy?
This is an intriguing question with an even more fascinating answer, which is ‘there is just no telling’! Not everyone experiences grey regrowth.
While some people’s hair may grow back grey, others, who have experimented with novel drugs, have their previously grey hair turn youthfully dark. Your comfort lies in knowing the situation will change in time. Your post-chemo hair won’t hang around forever.
How Long After Chemo Does Your Hair Stop Falling Out?
In the typical scenario, most people experience noticeable hair loss anywhere from 1 – 3 weeks after treatments begin. The effect is first seen on your head and usually, the rest of your body hair follows.
It doesn’t fall out neatly either, it happens in clumps. You’ll see tons of it in your hairbrush and on your pillow after a night’s sleep. Fret not. It shows that the treatment is working.
It can take from 4 – 6 weeks for your hair to start growing again after chemotherapy treatments have stopped. Don’t be surprised, as we said above, if you don’t recognize it as the hair you‘ve known all your life. Your body will respond as it sees fit until the drugs are out of your system.
After a few months, thicker, healthier hair starts to grow back – but slowly. It’s a good idea to manage your expectations and not expect a thick head of hair to come bursting forth.
Let Us Help You to Prepare
The long and short of it is that there are ways to prepare yourself and your scalp for what happens to hair after chemotherapy. Embrace the change with as much dignity as you can.
It is a helpful asset in life to understand how to manage things of a temporary nature. In the interim, let the treatment you use to fight it provide you with an opportunity for your hair to grow as you wait patiently for your health to return.
We are here to help you during your hair loss journey. Contact us at Hair to Ware and let us hold your hand through this difficult journey. We’ve got your back.