If you have only used coconut oil in cooking, you may not know its other uses. Some cultures use coconut oil as a mouthwash. For others, coconut oil is a helpful hair mask that hydrates dry hair, but can you use coconut oil to stimulate new hair growth?
The devastation of chemotherapy affects the whole body. The most notable is hair loss. If you are wondering how to support hair growth after chemo, some evidence shows that coconut oil can help.
Hair Loss During Chemo
While chemotherapy continues to be one of the most common forms of treatment for most cancers, the side effects can be challenging. Depending on the form of chemotherapy, you may lose some or all of your hair.
Chemotherapy targets quickly growing cells, which is why it is an effective treatment for sudden-onset cancer. However, one of the quickest growing cells in the body is your hair cells. For this reason, chemotherapy often results in hair loss.
Hair loss typically occurs a few weeks following the first chemotherapy treatment. Many cancer patients report sensitive skin on their scalps. When the treatment is over, it could take up to a full year before all of the hair grows back, and it may be a different color or texture.
Another difficult result of chemotherapy is that you may not only lose the hair on your head; eyelash and eyebrow hair can sometimes fall out too. The good news is that the hair will almost always grow back.
The stages of hair growth after chemo treatments will be unique and individual to you. Generally, the fuzz will appear several weeks following the conclusion of your treatment, though it could take longer.
As soon as hair appears on your head, you may wonder what helps hair growth after chemo.
Coconut oil is a helpful hair mask that hydrates dry hair, but can you use coconut oil to stimulate new hair growth?
Coconut Oil and Hair Growth
Anecdotal evidence and cultural practices have helped spread the use of coconut oil as a hair product. Though there is no formal, peer-reviewed evidence for the oil’s ability to stimulate new hair growth, using coconut oil as a natural hair product can significantly help dry hair.
One study found that coconut oil is an excellent detangler and helps repair damaged hair. Dry or thirsty hair tends to grow split-ends or to tangle easier. Healthier, moisturized hair is stronger and less likely to get in knots.
Coconut oil moisturizes hair by penetrating the hair shaft and binding with the hair proteins. The fat content in coconut oil also moisturizes the skin. If you suffer from an itchy, dry, or flaky scalp, coconut oil can help soothe irritation and moisturize the skin on your head.
The danger of using too much coconut oil on your hair is that the grease from the oil could clog your pores or make your hair feel slimy.
Remember that your hair and scalp following a chemotherapy treatment are particularly sensitive. Ask your doctor if you are wondering whether coconut oil will be too heavy for you.
No evidence concludes that rubbing coconut oil on your head will make your hair grow faster. However, as you begin to grow your hair back, coconut oil can soothe itchy skin and also moisturize your new hair.
Talk to a hairstylist at a salon you trust if you are concerned or have questions about the practice. Because many patients experience different hair textures when it grows back after chemo, an expert hair stylist can help decide whether to use coconut oil.
Another option is to work with a stylist to experiment with new hairstyles. This is particularly helpful if not all of your hair has fallen out. Find a stylist who is sensitive to your needs and work with them to identify dignified looks.
Other Hair Growth Options
The most important reminder for recovering patients regrowing their hair is to be gentle and keep their scalp clean and healthy. Your new hair will be fragile, and your scalp will likely be sensitive. Coconut oil can certainly help keep your new hair moisturized.
Some doctors recommend a biotin supplement. A biotin supplement is a type of B vitamin that promotes biotin production in the body. Biotin is linked to the production of keratin, an essential protein in your hair and skin.
It makes sense then that doctors would recommend biotin supplements for post-chemo patients. Still, like coconut oil, no formal studies have found conclusive evidence for the connection between biotin supplements and increased hair growth.
Though cancer is common, the field of cancer research is still relatively new and ever-evolving. Much of the evidence behind natural remedies’ success in offsetting the side effects of cancer treatment remains anecdotal. This does not mean that they are not worth trying.
The most important thing to remember is that your hair loss is a part of your cancer journey. It is natural to feel devastated by the change in your appearance, but it is rarely permanent. Consider wearing a shorter hairstyle or using colorful head wraps. You may also feel supported by asking a loved one to shave their head with you; this way, you won’t be alone.
Chemotherapy is a difficult journey. Though the treatment can be effective against many cancers, the side effects include nausea, changes in cognition, and, most famously, hair loss. This hair loss is often temporary but challenging to navigate nonetheless.
Many look to natural and low-impact remedies to promote hair growth after chemo treatments. While there is no proven link between coconut oil and new hair growth, coconut oil can be a great product to keep existing and growing hair moisturized and healthy.
The most helpful thing you can do with chemo-related hair loss is to be gentle with yourself. Your hair will grow back in its own time, and while there are some things you can do to make it easier for the hair to come back, it is important to be patient. Eventually, the side effects from chemo wear off, and you will see your hair again!