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Using Cold Caps To Treat Chemotherapy Hair Loss

Chemo and radiation therapies often have the consequence of temporary hair loss. While hair tends to grow back gradually on its on, texture, thickness and sometimes color may change. And periodically growth can be slow or patchy after treatments end.

Every cancer patient knows that if you need to undergo chemotherapy, there is a very good chance that you will lose your hair. Often itís seen as a fact of treatment and many decide it is time to invest in a wide range of hats. Companies now produce an ice pack that sits on your head during the chemotherapy treatment and reduces the likelihood of losing hair on your head. The cold cap will slow the blood flow and in turn, slow the side-effects associated with chemotherapy.

Why Does The Hair Loss Occur?

Hair loss associated with chemotherapy is a very common occurrence. The idea behind chemotherapy is that a powerful drug is introduced into the body and these chemo drugs are designed to attack cancer cells. Science hasnít been able to create a means for these drugs to specifically target areas in the body. Instead of directly targeting cancer cells, these drugs must target all cells that grow rapidly, the most common of which are the cells of hair roots. That is why many chemo patients wonít simply lose hair from their heads, but all over their bodies. It is also why many will experience a slowing down or complete lack of growth of their fingernails during treatment.

One thing to keep in mind before your treatment, however, is that not all of the drugs used will produce the same results. Some are more likely to cause hair loss so the extent of alopecia that you experience depends on the drug you are using, the dose and the way your body reacts to it, making it completely different for each person. Almost always, however, the hair that is lost during chemo will begin to regrow several months after treatment is over.

How Cold Caps Work

Hair loss associated with chemotherapy is due to the drugs affecting the rapidly reproducing cells in the hair root, therefore the theory behind cold caps makes sense. This treatment is also known as cryotherapy or scalp hypothermia. The cold will reduce the blood flow going to your scalp. In turn, this will allow less of the chemotherapy drugs to reach this area so you experience fewer side effects. If the several products on the market werenít enough proof, some studies have been done that show cold caps can work with most people and the option is becoming increasingly popular.

If growth is slow or you feel you are getting minimal response from a cold pack therapy, we recommend supplementing with a shampoo, conditioner or topical spray to promote additional growth. Products like Prominox have been developed to encourage growth by stimulating improved circulation to the scalp and adding nutrients that may have been stripped or inhibited by chemo or radiation. While not a panacea, customer feedback indicates recurring growth by many.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Like any treatment, there are some drawbacks associated with using cold caps during chemotherapy. People using them will immediately notice that their head may feel uncomfortably cold (which is understandable as most reach temperatures of -22 degrees Fahrenheit) and they can experience headaches. Some headaches can be severe and last or several days. Some people have reported that they had scalp sensitivity afterwards as well.

But there are also some far-reaching effects; because the cold caps work by reducing the amount of chemotherapy drugs that reach the scalp, they leave this area of the body at a higher risk of cancer returning to the scalp, simply because it will not receive the same dosage as the rest of the body. The occurrences of this happening, however, are very rare and if this is a concern you should discuss it with your doctor.

Where To Get One

The most popular brand of these cold caps is called Penguin Cold Cap but they can be a bit expensive with a one month rental fee of around $500. Despite this, many cancer patients find them well worth the price as they will not have to worry about losing their hair. The best places to find these are through online sites.