When will regular hair come in?

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Question from Debs: I shaved my head, rather than wait for clumps to fall out. Now that I'm done with the chemo, it's starting to grow back. It's very fine ( I call it "mutant hair") and it's not even over the head. The sides are growing but not the top. Is there any way to make it ALL grow? And when will it get regular hair texture?
Answers - Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph. My sister just had the same experience where her hair grew in irregularly and I had other friends have their hair grown back in a wavy texture, which is soft and wavy. I call it first hair. Then in about 3 months they tend to get back their hair or what is their "new" hair. The first 3 months it seems to have a different texture than the women have ever experienced before.
Mary Gail Mercurio There is some variability in the hair growth rate over the top of the scalp and this varies from person to person and even on the same person, but eventually all of that hair is going to come back. It may remain of a different texture or slightly different color. This occurs because we believe the chemotherapy causes an alteration of the hair follicle, which is the biologic machinery that makes the hair. But it has not been clearly demonstrated scientifically what the alteration of the follicle is. Logically speaking, we must think that chemotherapy alters that structure creating the hair, but the majority of my patients, even when the hair is slightly different, are pleased because it IS hair and they are going to have a head full of hair, albeit a slightly different color or texture. Along those same lines, this new hair is no more fragile than the old hair. Once it begins to grow, it is a healthy hair and there is nothing wrong with coloring it or perming it or other cosmetic intervention that will benefit self-esteem.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called No Hair, New Hair, Skin Care featured Mary Gail Mercurio, M.D., Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions on the physical side effects of breast cancer treatment, and what you can do about them.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in August 2001.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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