Why are hair follicles affected by chemotherapy?


Why does chemotherapy damage the cells of your hair follicles?

Hair loss is a common side effect of chemotherapy treatment. This is because chemotherapy targets rapidly-dividing cells throughout the body, aiming at the cancer but also affecting the healthy cells that produce hair on the scalp and all over the body.

Why do chemotherapy drugs affect cells such as hair follicles so strongly?

Often, these drugs cannot distinguish between cancer cells and other rapidly dividing cells in your body. Therefore, because hair cells are some of our most active, fastest-growing cells, they are often attacked and killed by chemotherapy drugs.

Does chemo kill hair follicles?

How long does it take? Chemotherapy can affect not only cancerous cells but also healthy cells, including those in the hair follicles that support hair growth. Damage to these cells can cause the head hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair elsewhere on the body to fall out during treatment.

Which part of the hair follicle will be most affected by chemotherapy?

Those hairs that are actively growing will be most affected, but because growing hair follicles can be arranged in patches or evenly distributed all over the scalp, it is unfortunately impossible to predict the pattern of hair loss for any given individual.

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Does hair grow back patchy after chemo?

It’s important to know that following chemotherapy the hair nearly always grows back but it can take a while and be slower then before hair loss. Very rarely, after high does of chemotherapy treatment the hair may not grow back at all or produce very fine hair.

What is the best shampoo to use after chemo?

Use baby shampoo or other mild shampoo (such as Aveeno® or Vanicream). You should also use a cream rinse or hair conditioner. Use shampoos and conditioners that have sunscreen to prevent sun damage to your scalp. Always rinse your hair well and pat it dry with a soft towel.

What are the fastest growing cells in the body?

Hair follicles, skin, and the cells that line the gastrointestinal tract are some of the fastest growing cells in the human body, and therefore are most sensitive to the effects of chemotherapy.

Which shampoo is best during chemotherapy?

When it comes to choosing a shampoo specifically for use with a cooling cap, the Live Better With community recommend Paxman hair and scalp care shampoo, which is specially designed for people undergoing chemotherapy.

Does chemotherapy shorten your life?

During the 3 decades, the proportion of survivors treated with chemotherapy alone increased (from 18% in 1970-1979 to 54% in 1990-1999), and the life expectancy gap in this chemotherapy-alone group decreased from 11.0 years (95% UI, 9.0-13.1 years) to 6.0 years (95% UI, 4.5-7.6 years).

How many rounds of chemo is normal?

You may need four to eight cycles to treat your cancer. A series of cycles is called a course. Your course can take 3 to 6 months to complete. And you may need more than one course of chemo to beat the cancer.

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