Hair loss is usually temporary. After chemotherapy your hair will grow back. Often the first soft hairs reappear within a month or six weeks of treatment ending, and you can expect to have a reasonable head of hair three to six months later.
When you finish radiotherapy your hair will usually grow back. The time it takes and the way it grows back depends on the dose of radiotherapy you have received. Your hair will usually have grown back within six to twelve months of completing your treatment. Occasionally after a large dose of radiotherapy the hair may not recover completely, new growth can be rather patchy and there may be some permanent hair loss. Talk to your doctor about what to expect as your hair grows back.
As your hair grows back you may notice some changes. It may be a little more curly, thicker or finer than it was before or it may grow back a slightly different colour. A hairdresser may be able to help you with thinning hair and hair care during regrowth. If your hair loss is partial talk to your hairdresser about different styling as this can give the appearance of thicker hair. Hairpieces are available and may be helpful.
Before starting to colour or tint your hair again seek advice from a professional about the colours or chemicals that may be suitable for you. It is understandable that you might not want to wait to dye your hair. If your scalp is sensitive you can ask your hairdresser to recommend henna dyes or vegetable-based dyes as these may be gentler on the hair and scalp than chemical hair colours.
Acknowledgements: The information is based on the expertise of clinicians who work in the area and consumer experience and was reviewed by: Karen Hall, Clinical Nurse, Cancer Services Division, Flinders Medical Centre SA; Joy Hills, Support Officer Cancer Council Tasmania; Frank Hughes - 13 11 20 consultant, Cancer Council Queensland; Christine Long, Team Leader, Health Professional & Education, Cancer Council Queensland; Sue Spencer, Clinical Manager Oncology, Breast Care Nurse, Western Hospital SA; Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurses; Nina Mastrangelo, Consumer SA; Clinical health professionals at Icon Cancer Care SA.