For cancer patients, chemotherapy is often a much necessary method of treatment at some point during their battle. And while it’s necessary, it is far from easy. Chemotherapy is incredibly stressful on the body and side effects include everything from extreme nausea to dizziness. One of the most common and well-known side effects, though, is hair loss. It may not be the most physically painful, but sometimes hair loss for women in chemotherapy can be the most mentally painful.
Fortunately, there is a new development on the market that may prevent hair loss and help with hair rejuvenation. Introducing: cold caps. Cold caps look similar to soft football helmets that fit tightly to your head and strap underneath your chin with gel filled packs inside.
How does it work? The process of cold caps is known more officially as scalp hypothermia. The cooling constricts the blood vessels in your scalp (vasoconstriction) which is purported to decrease the amount of chemo chemicals that hit your hair follicles. Additionally, chemo targets cells that are highly active so, when the cold slows down the cells in your hair, they become less attractive to the chemicals.
How do you use cold caps for hair rejuvenation? Keep them in a special freezer with dry ice until you’re ready to use, then place on your head. They should be about -32 degrees C. Replace with a new one every 30 minutes (since by that point, the one on your head will have thawed out close to room temperature and not as effective). Begin the process about thirty minutes before you begin your chemo treatment and then continue for two to three hours after the treatment ends.
Are there any side effects? Be prepared that sometimes, because the hats are so cold, the wearer may experience headaches. Dress warmly to help maintain a happy body temperature.
Does it actually work? There have been a lot of different studies conducted on the effect of cold caps on hair loss and hair rejuvenation during chemotherapy. There have been some very positive results but it all depends on a person’s individual treatment (dosage amount, length of treatment, frequency of radiation, etc.). Some women who used cold caps still experienced significant hair loss; however, there is no harm in trying and it could help immensely for some. Just make sure you discuss it with your doctor before using a cold cap while in treatment.