Chemotherapy is designed to attack rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, hair follicles are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body. That’s why, within a few weeks of beginning chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, many women report losing some or all of their hair.
It’s important to note that hair almost always grows back after chemotherapy. However, women must be mindful that there may be some distinct changes when hair grows back. Hair can regrow with a different texture. Hair may be curly when it was once straight. Hair may now be thick instead of thin. Hair color may change as well. Other people experience little to no changes.
How quickly hair grows back depends on individual health. It can take up to three months before women get a full a head of hair. As the body recovers from chemotherapy and more effectively processes vitamins and other nutrients, those nutrients will be delivered to hair follicles.
To promote healthier hair growth, individuals may want to try changing their diets to include ingredients that can be beneficial to hair growth and health. The following are some foods to try:
Salmon: Salmon and other fatty fish contain omega-3 acids that can fuel shiny, full hair. The body does not make omega-3s, so they must be acquired through food.
Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt contains an ingredient known as pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5. This can help improve blood flow to the scalp and also may assist against hair thinning and loss.
Iron: Iron contained in organ meats, fortified cereals, whole grains, and legumes can protect against hair loss.
Eggs: Rich in biotin, eggs can help hair grow. Biotin also helps strengthen brittle fingernails.
Avocados: Avocado contains healthy oils that can fight dry hair and promote shine.
Hair loss is a temporary side effect of cancer treatment. With time, patience and a healthy diet, hair can return.