Can Cooling Caps prevent Hair Loss?
Hair loss is an unfortunate side effect of the Chemotherapy treatment, that can be the extremely stressful and traumatic. The hair loss side effect can be one of the easiest physical signs of the ongoing cancer treatment that men and women would always try to avoid. Cancer can be a long and hard battle that many people prefer to keep a private matter. The sudden onset of hair loss can make that a much more difficult prospect. While there is no definite way to prevent this hair loss from being seen, cooling caps are now becoming increasingly popular to use alongside chemotherapy to try and prevent or reduce the amount of hair loss seen.
Cooling caps work by reducing the temperature of the scalp and slow down the blood flow there. By doing this the theory is that we can reduce the amount of Chemotherapy drug that reaches our hair follicles. Less of the drug interacting with our hair follicles and a reduced level of hair loss should follow. Cooling caps are not 100% effective and won’t work for every type of chemotherapy treatment. For some people using a cooling cap will only serve to prolong the hair loss process. This can be more traumatic then a sudden, but expected hair loss. The cooling caps themselves can be extremely uncomfortable due to the extreme low temperatures. The treatment can last from 10 minutes upward towards 30-40 minutes depending on the cooling cap being used. Worth considering the discomfort the cap will cause when deciding to give it a go.
Cooling caps are not recommended for the following:
- If you have a blood (haematological) cancer. The reason for this is the cooling cap will prevent the chemotherapy treatment from treating the cancer cells within the blood vessels of the scalp
- You have already started the chemotherapy treatment without using the cooling cap from the beginning. By this stage it is likely to be too late for the cooling cap to work effectively as the chemotherapy drug will have already reached the scalp after the first treatment
- Your chemotherapy dose is very high. The higher the dose, the less likely the cooling cap is to be effective at preventing hair loss
- Your liver function is impaired. This will allow the chemotherapy drugs to remain in your system for longer and you are unlikely to be able to keep the scalp cold enough for long enough
- You have severe migraines. The extreme cold is likely to exacerbate the migraines and should be avoided
If you are a candidate to use the cooling cap, there is no side effects from giving them a go. If you are one of the successful patients that the cap works for and you are able to keep your hair, I’m sure you will be grateful for that small victory.