Hair loss after cancer treatment

Sometimes cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and certain chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Other treatments may thin the hair or have no effect on it at all. Some treatments can cause you to lose all body hair, including your facial hair such as eyebrows, eyelashes, and your pubic hair. This can be very distressing. 
Your hair will usually begin to grow back a few weeks after your last chemotherapy treatment. For some people the hair can grow back differently. For example, if you had straight hair, it could grow back curly.  It can take up to 6 months after treatment for your hair to grow back normally. Hair loss due to radiotherapy can take longer to grow back on the part of the body treated with radiation.

What medical help is available for hair loss?

Nearly all people who lose their hair find that their hair begins to grow back after treatment has ended. If your hair loss is troubling you or if you have problems with hair regrowth after cancer treatment talk to your nurse specialist, GP or hospital doctor. A trichologist is qualified to diagnose and treat hair and scalp disorders and may be able to help.

How can I cope better with hair loss?

  • Treat your hair gently when it is growing back. Use a soft brush and baby shampoo for the first 6 months or until there is a good growth of hair.
  • It is best to wait for at least 6 months after treatment before colouring or perming your hair. 
  • Speak to your hairdresser before you colour your hair for the first time after treatment. 

For more information please see our Hair Loss and Cancer Treatment page.

Call our Cancer Nurseline

Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 6pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm
Date Last Reviewed: 
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Date Last Revised: 
Tuesday, November 24, 2015