Do Cooling Caps Prevent Hair Loss during Chemotherapy?

Hair loss is one of the most well-known side effects of chemotherapy – and for many, one of the most dreaded. Chemotherapy can be difficult enough without the added emotional effects of hair loss, so it’s understandable that cancer patients would want to preserve their hair. One way in which hair loss might be minimized during chemotherapy is cooling caps, or scalp hypothermia.

 

According to the American Cancer Society, scalp hypothermia involves cooling the scalp before, during and after chemotherapy, in an effort to reduce or prevent hair loss. Ice packs or specialized cooling caps are used to cool the scalp.

 

The cooling effect minimizes hair loss by constricting blood vessels in the scalp, reducing the amount of chemo chemicals that reach the hair follicle cells. In addition, cold hair follicles are less active. Because chemo targets rapidly dividing cells, the follicles are less attractive. The sum effect is that chemo doesn’t affect follicle cells, and hair loss is reduced or prevented altogether.

 

cooling caps

The newest cooling caps involve a two-piece system in which a cooled liquid is circulated through a cap placed on the scalp during chemotherapy sessions. A second cap is placed over the cooling cap to keep the cold in and to hold the system in place.

 

But do cooling caps really work? Some research has found little to no reduction in hair loss. However, in studies of the new cool cap systems, more than half of the women using them during chemo for early-stage breast cancer lost less than half of their hair. The success of cooling caps may also be linked to the type and dosage of chemo drugs used, as well as the thickness of hair and proper fitting of the cap.

 

There are side effects, however, including headaches, scalp pain, chills and upper body discomfort.

 

Whether you use a cooling cap or not, chemotherapy often results in some degree of hair loss. At DK International, we’re here to support you through your chemotherapy and hair loss journey. Our compassionate Minneapolis hair loss professionals will discuss your options for hair restoration, hair replacement, wigs and more. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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