Cold Caps for Hair Loss
I have written about so-called Cold Caps before, but just came across a new series of articles about them, so am bringing the topic to you again. This is a good example of "whatever goes around, comes around" as I remember an earlier version of these caps more than twenty years ago. The theory then and now is that wearing an extremely cold cap during chemotherapy infusion causes the blood vessels in your scalp to constrict, reduce blood flow, and thereby reduce hair loss. The possible problems are immediately obvious.
The biggest issue is whether this is a smart strategy. After all, the whole idea of chemotherapy is that the drugs go everywhere in your body where cancer cells might be lurking. Do you really want to reduce the possible efficacy of the treatment? Since there is no way to really measure the importance of chemotherapy drugs getting to your scalp, this is a theoretical question, but one worth considering. The other issues are that the caps are pretty uncomfortable, giving some women intense headaches, and they don't work all that well. Finally, the currently available caps are pretty expensive and often not covered by insurance.
Having said that, they do work some for some women, and some women welcome the chance to try to save some hair. Of course it depends on which drugs are being administered; you have a better chance of keeping some hair while receiving Taxol than receiving Adriamycin. Here is the beginning of a summary from BreastCancer.org and then a link for that article. I will follow that with links to other relevant articles.
Cold caps tightly fitting, strapon hats filled with gel that’s chilled to between 15
to 40 degrees Fahrenheit – may
help some women keep some or quite a bit of their hair during chemotherapy. Because the caps are so cold, they narrow the blood vessels beneath the skin of the scalp, reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine that
reaches the hair follicles. With less chemotherapy medicine in the follicles, the hair may be less likely to fall out.
There are several brands of cold caps, including Penguin Cold Caps and the DigniCap System. In most cases,
you rent the caps for the length of your chemotherapy treatment. Penguin caps are chilled in a special freezer (the freezer in your house can’t get the cap as cold as it needs to be) and then delivered to your chemotherapy
treatment center, each in its own storage box. The DigniCap is connected to a cooling/control unit that then chills
the cap to the proper temperature.
To read more from BreastCancer.org: www.breastcancer.org/tips/hair_skin_nails/cold-caps#
And a few others: