Should you try a cold cap to prevent chemo-related hair loss?

(Barbara Brody/ Everyday Health) — For many people, especially women, losing hair as part of cancer treatment can be almost as devastating as the diagnosis. In fact, research suggests that for many patients chemotherapy-related hair loss is associated with depression, negative body image, lowered self-esteem, and a reduced sense of well-being.

Some women are so concerned about chemotherapy-related hair loss that they opt to forgo the chemotherapy their doctor has recommended.

In the past, the only “solution” for people who didn’t wish to remain bald was to get a wig once their hair had fallen out. While that’s still an option, it’s no longer the only one. A technology called cold cap therapy, also known as scalp cooling, might reduce your chances of losing your hair in the first place.

During cold cap therapy, patients wear a cap (or set of caps) designed to dramatically lower the temperature of the scalp and its hair follicles. “Chemotherapy works by killing cells that are rapidly proliferating, which includes cancer cells as well as healthy cells like hair follicles,” says Sagar Sardesai, MD, MP, a breast medical oncologist at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We believe [scalp cooling] works by temporarily restricting blood flow to the follicles so that the chemotherapy drugs can’t penetrate them.” (…)

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