Chemotherapy Hair Loss (Timeline, Treatment, Causes, Prevention)

Chemotherapy Hair Loss (Timeline, Treatment, Causes, Prevention)

Chemotherapy Hair Loss

Chemotherapy hair loss is unlike any other and it must be treated as such. This is not a time when you should really be focusing on hair loss and there are clearly other more important things to worry about. But it’s still not exactly pleasant and it’s something that can drag a cancer sufferer’s self-esteem down, making life even more difficult than it already is and seriously lowering their mood at a time when it is already low.

So, chemotherapy hair loss is still something that needs to be discussed. And while it’s not something that can be treated or stopped, there are solutions. We will look at them in this article. We’ll tell you what to prepare for and what to do when it happens. We’ll also aim to answer the following questions:

  • Does Chemotherapy Always Cause Hair Loss?
  • How Soon After Chemotherapy Will Hair Grow Back?
  • What is the Chemotherapy Hair Loss Timeline?
  • Which Chemotherapy Drugs Cause Hair Loss?
  • Is There a Treatment for Chemotherapy Hair Loss?

Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss?

Why Does Chemotherapy Cause Hair Loss?

Cancer is essentially a rapidly growing cell that has mutated and is growing out of control without resistance from your body. The chemotherapy drugs stop these cells by attacking them. However, they are not selective. They attack all rapidly growing cells, including the healthy ones. This is essentially what hair cells are. They are constantly growing, constantly evolving, and these drugs attack them.

So, chemotherapy hair loss is not just just limited to the head, it happens all over the body. In most cases, someone about to go through chemotherapy will shave their head in advance. This is done to ensure that they don’t go through the traumatic experience of having one’s hair fall out in clumps, or waking up to find a pillow full of hair. It is also done to stop the hair from falling out in patches, leaving uneven clumps of hair in place.

Which Chemotherapy Medication Causes Hair Loss?

Not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Many of them will do it it some extent, but some are worse than others. If this is something you are worried about then you should discuss it with your doctor. However, you shouldn’t avoid one type of medication simply because you are concerned about hair loss. As discussed below, your hair will grow back in time, and it’s okay going a little bald for a few months if it means doing all you can to beat this horrible disease.

To learn more about hair loss causes, and to discover the many other issues that you can face, read our articles on hair loss in men and hair loss in women.

Chemotherapy Hair Loss Timeline

Chemotherapy Hair Loss Timeline
So, how soon after chemotherapy will your hair grow back? Well, it depends on the medication, but it will typically begin between 2 and 4 weeks after you start treatment. This is a slow onset, but chemotherapy hair loss can be quite dramatic when it happens. So, you may want to consider shaving your head after a week or two. If you wait until the first strands of hair begin to fall out then you may be in for a shock before you get the chance to shave.

After it has fallen out your scalp may also be very tender, which is why it is important to shave it off beforehand as opposed to shaving it off afterwards when nothing but clumps have been left. Six months after treatment has finish there should be few to no signs of chemotherapy hair loss and you should have a full head of hair back. It’s not unusual for hair to grow back in a different way or even as a different color. It might be straighter, it might be curlier. It could be white or it could have lost all of the white that you had.

This change is one of the most unusual aspects of chemotherapy hair loss and of this treatment on the whole. In some cases patients are pleasantly surprised to discover that they have the hair they have already wanted.

Treatment for Hair Loss after Chemotherapy

Once the treatment has finished then it may take a few weeks before the hair begins to grow back. At this point you may be prescribed certain hair regrowth treatments by a doctor, such as minoxidil or finasteride.

Again, this is something you should discuss with your doctor as it may not be suitable for you. If nothing else then you should be able to take some vitamins and supplements. These can help you to support your hair follicles and strengthen your scalp. And because they are naturally sourced vitamins they can also help to improve your overall wellbeing, which is essential when you have just put yourself through such an ordeal.

Preventing Chemotherapy Hair Loss

Prevent Chemotherapy Hair Loss

Unfortunately there is no way to stop chemotherapy hair loss, nor is there a way to limit it. Even if you were to take hair growth drugs during treatment, which is not advised, they just wouldn’t be strong enough to stop the hair loss from taking place.

This is a difficult time for anyone to go through, but with a little patience and with a little inner strength, it’s one that you can get through safely and with your health intact. You may want to purchase a weave or toupee in order to help with your confidence, especially if you have always been very particular about your hair. It will lessen the shock factor and may help to keep your spirits up.

Chemotherapy and Permanent Hair Loss

The good news is that chemotherapy hair loss is rarely permanent. The drugs attack the cells during the course of treatment but basically leave them alone afterwards. So, providing no damage has been done, those cells will continue to work and will continue to grow healthy, strong hair. There are many ways you can speed it up if you feel it is too slow and there are also ways to fix any issues that might arise.

Of course, if you were bald or balding to begin with, then don’t expect to regain a full head of hair after the chemotherapy has finished.

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