Rebuilding Hair Health: A Guide to Post-Chemo Hair Care

If you have recently undergone chemo treatment, your hair may be on the road to recovery but will still need some extra TLC. In some cases, people report having "chemo curls," or different hair colour or texture after chemotherapy. This is because chemotherapy medications can remain in your body and cause your hair follicles to behave differently.

How long does it take for hair to grow back?

Hair usually starts to regrow within 4–6 weeks after finishing chemotherapy, but it may be different in texture and colour than before. After 12 months, hair should be long enough to brush and style as well as going back to its usual texture and colour as your body flushes out all the toxins from chemo. Each person who has undergone chemotherapy has a different pattern of hair loss and regrowth, which may be related to their age, their tolerance of the treatment, and their personal health history. It is important to be gentle with your hair as it regrows. Do not colour it or use heating devices until your hair becomes stronger.

Here are some tips for looking after your hair and promoting its health and vitality as it grows back.

What helps hair growth after chemo?

  1. Start with Gentle Shampooing

    Your hair may still be fragile or vulnerable, so begin by using a gentle, sulphate free shampoo that won't strip your hair of natural oils. Opt for a mild, fragrance-free formula that keeps your scalp hydrated without irritation. You can also ask your oncologist for recommendations on safe hair care products.

  2. Deep Condition Your Hair
    To help restore shine and moisture to your hair, deep condition after every wash. Apply a hair mask or conditioner treatment to nourish and protect your hair from further damage. Avoid using hot styling tools such as straighteners or curlers which can cause damage and breakage.

  3. Be mindful of your hairbrush
    Avoid brushes with sharp or rough bristles that tug or pull at your hair and scalp. Use a wide-tooth comb or a soft bristle brush to gently detangle your hair.

  4. Stay Hydrated for Healthier Hair
    Drinking enough water each day is not only helpful for your overall health but also promotes healthy hair growth. Drinking water will keep your hair moisturised, stronger, and less prone to breakage.

  5. Eat Nutritious Foods
    Eating a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals is essential for maintaining healthy hair. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and nuts, can promote healthy hair growth and maintain scalp health.

  6. Seek Professional Help
    A qualified hair stylist with experience in hair care after chemo can provide guidance and support as you navigate your next hair stage. They can give you recommendations on the right type of hair cut, hair colour and styling techniques which promote fuller, healthier hair. 

Remember that hair regrowth can take time and varies from person to person, so be patient and gentle with your hair to prevent further damage. Also, do not hesitate to reach out to your oncologist or a support group if you have questions or concerns about your hair's health and recovery. By following these simple steps and practicing a little bit of self-care, you'll be well on your way to healthier, stronger and beautiful hair.

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