Some chemotherapy drugs can cause temporary hair loss. Scalp cooling can help to prevent hair loss from your head. There is no known way to prevent hair loss that might happen as a result of radiotherapy, hormonal therapies or biological therapies.
Scalp cooling works by reducing the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees immediately before, during and after having chemotherapy. This aims to reduce the amount of chemotherapy that reaches the hair follicles on your scalp, which may lessen hair loss. In some cases, it may prevent the hair from falling out. Unfortunately, some people who have scalp cooling may still lose their hair.
There are two widely available methods for scalp cooling:
This method uses a special cap that is filled with cold gel. It can be fitted easily to your head and kept in place with Velcro®. The cap can often be uncomfortable and heavy, as well as being very cold. This can give some people a headache. Let your doctor or nurse know if this happens. They can give you painkillers.
The cap also needs to be changed every 20 to 40 minutes to keep your scalp cool.
Refrigerated cooling system
A refrigerated cooling system pumps liquid coolant through a cap. This type of cap generally feels lighter than a gel-filled cap. You need to sit next to the machine while the cap is in place, so you can’t walk about freely. However, the cap can be disconnected for short periods if necessary, for example if you need to use the toilet.