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Cold Caps Can Help Prevent Chemo-Related Hair Loss

Chemotherapy treatment kills both cancer cells and healthy cells, such as hair follicles, causing hair to fall out. The damage to hair follicles may start during or after infusion, and some patients will begin losing their hair after a few weeks.

Losing hair during cancer treatment is a devastating experience for many, especially women. It can cause depression and low self-esteem. To cover their heads, some women use wigs, hats, and scarfs.

A new technology known as cold cap therapy can help reduce a patient’s chances of losing their hair during chemotherapy. There are several options of cold caps available in the market for patients who want to help prevent hair loss.

Cold cap therapy allows you to wear the cap for a specific duration. The cap will lower the temperature of the scalp and hair follicles. By cooling the scalp, the cap will temporarily restrict blood flow to the follicles to prevent chemotherapy drugs from penetrating.

For cooling caps to work, the patient will wear them for 30 minutes or an hour before undergoing chemotherapy, during infusion, and an hour after the treatment.

Cooling caps have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by cancer patients. Although manufactured by different technologies, they have similar concepts that help to achieve the same goal. You can find them in several cancer centers. For your chemotherapy appointment, you’ll be allowed to wear a cap attached to an apparatus that will pump a coolant into the cap. 

Under the supervision of the hospital staff, you will remain immobile while wearing the cap and take short breaks when you need to use the bathroom. The nurse will have to disengage the device and restart it when you return.

When tested in clinical trials, the cold caps have yielded promising results. The caps have been used on early-stage breast cancer patients, and 79% of them retained approximately 50% of their hair. However, not all chemotherapy treatments cause hair loss, so some patients may not require a cooling cap at all.

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