Brenda Spriggs, MD, MPH, MBA
Chemotherapy is an intense and difficult treatment for cancer that kills cancer cells and healthy cells alike. According to the Mayo Clinic, the drugs used in chemotherapy can destroy the hair roots, making hair stop growing and fall out. If you've recently finished chemotherapy, you may be eager grow your hair back. The Mayo Clinic states that hair usually grows back naturally in three to 10 months. Using the right hair-care techniques and products can help you grow your hair back faster.
Use gentle products on your hair as it grows back. Treating your hair roughly, dyeing it, straightening it or curling it can cause damage, making it grow back more slowly. The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding heat styling and hair color treatments so the follicles will grow in stronger and faster. Your hair may grow back curlier or in a different color, but if you want to change the way it looks, let it grow in fully before compromising its strength with heat treatments and chemicals.
Consider using a treatment such as minoxidil. Minoxidil, which is sold under the brand names Rogaine, Avacor and Regaine, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for re-growing hair. The Mayo Clinic recommends using the drug during and after chemotherapy treatments. Make sure your doctor knows that you will be using minoxidil so he can advise you of any possible side effects or interactions.
Eat high-protein foods. The beauty website HairBoutique.com states that hair is essentially made up of protein, so eating enough protein in the diet is crucial to growing hair back quickly. Protein-rich foods include meats, beans, eggs, lentils and tofu. However, while eating tofu occasionally has not been proven harmful, the American Cancer Society states that supplementing with soy protein powders or consuming high amounts of soy (found in tofu) can actually fuel cancer cells. Avoiding foods with added sugars, such as candy and chocolate, can also keep the hair follicles nourished, according to HairBoutique.com.
Add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet to nourish your hair from the inside out and speed up its growth. HairBoutique.com states that B vitamins influence cell turnover, so supplementing your diet with vitamins B6 and B12 can lead hair to grow faster. Beta carotene, another vitamin available in supplements, helps protect the fibers of the hair, according to HairBoutique.com.