One common side effect of undergoing chemotherapy is hair loss. It's troubling if you have short hair, but if your hair is long, it is even more upsetting since it takes months or years for your hair to grow long again. One solution to this problem might be a cold cap. Cold caps are like helmets you wear while receiving your chemotherapy treatments. They keep your head cold and may prevent or reduce the amount of hair you lose. Here's how it works.
The Two Types Of Cold Cap Equipment
Cold caps are made by different companies so they vary somewhat in how they are made. However, they all fit over the head like a swimming cap or helmet. They have gel inserts that are frozen before you put the cap on. The gel slowly thaws out, so the caps have to be replaced during your chemotherapy treatment. To use the cold caps, you'll need multiple caps and a special cooler that keeps them frozen. Since you will only need the caps during your chemotherapy phase, you won't have to buy the equipment. Instead, you can rent the caps and cooler from a company that supplies them. Your insurance may cover the cost of renting the caps and you may find grants available to help pay for the rental fees if money is an issue.
Some cancer clinics incorporate the use of cold caps into their cancer treatments. These caps work in a different way. Instead of replacing the cap each time it thaws, you leave on the same cap the entire time. The gel is kept at the right temperature because the cap is attached to a cooling system. Using the equipment supplied by a clinic is more convenient, but it is not always available to you. Fortunately, you can rent your own equipment and bring it with you to the clinic. Just be sure to bring along a helper to switch out your caps and to make sure they stay as cold as they are supposed to.
How The Cold Caps Prevent Hair Loss
The caps keep your scalp very cold. This constricts the blood vessels around your hair follicles so blood flow is reduced. With reduced blood flow, a lesser amount of the chemotherapy drug is circulated through your scalp. With less medication affecting your hair, there is less risk of it falling out. You need to apply a cap several minutes before you begin receiving medication so your scalp has time to get cold. Cold cap therapy may not prevent hair loss completely, but the amount of hair you lose could be minimized. Results vary according to the type of chemotherapy drug you receive, so talk to your doctor about the medication you will be taking and if cold caps can be used with it. Suppliers of cold cap equipment can also help you decide if the therapy is right for your situation.
If you will be undergoing chemotherapy treatments soon, consider cold cap therapy if you're concerned about losing your hair. If it's effective, you may be able to avoid the sadness of hair loss and the discomfort of wearing a wig while your hair grows back out.