When you're undergoing chemotherapy, hair loss (known as alopecia) is the last thing you want to deal with. Many types of cancer treatment cause alopecia because of the powerful drugs used to fight your illness. Hair loss in any situation can be a huge blow to self-esteem, leading sufferers to feel less attractive, more self-conscious and less like their normal selves. These effects can be particularly upsetting when you are undergoing treatment for a serious illness.
Many chemotherapy-triggered cases of alopecia are concealed with wigs. Yet these can be hot, uncomfortable and require a great deal of maintenance if they are to look natural. A new scalp cooling treatment which uses equipment known as 'cooling caps' is now available, and it could reduce hair loss during chemotherapy. So do cooling caps work?
What are cooling caps?
First, let's take a closer look at what cooling caps are. Cooling caps are a key part of a treatment known as scalp cooling. There are two types of cooling cap available; the first is a standalone cap which can be fitted tightly around the head. It is filled with a special gel which can be cooled in the refrigerator. The second type is a similar cap, directly attached to a cooling system and fitted around the scalp.
How do cooling caps work?
These caps are designed to keep the head cool during chemotherapy. The reason hair loss happens during cancer treatment is that chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic and when the drug reaches the blood vessels in the scalp through the blood stream, it poisons the hair follicles. This is what causes hair loss. Cooling caps are designed to combat this effect.
Scalp cooling keeps the scalp cool, reducing the size of your blood vessels. The smaller the blood vessels, the harder it is for chemotherapy drugs to reach your scalp through your bloodstream. The more you can reduce the access of chemotherapy drugs to the scalp, the less hair loss you should experience.
Are cooling caps effective?
Studies have shown that cooling caps can be highly effective. They do not work for everyone and they are not suitable for all patients but, in many cases, scalp cooling at least slows the loss of hair. Many patients, however, still experience hair thinning - but at a slower rate. In these cases supplementary hair fillers such as KeraFiber can be used to bulk up the appearance of thinning hair, concealing thinness and providing extra body and extra confidence.
Hair fillers & cooling caps
Cooling caps are unlikely to completely prevent hair thinning. Instead they can reduce the impact of chemotherapy and slow down its effects on your hair. One way to improve the appearance of thinning hair without resorting to wigs is to make use of hair fillers which bind to existing follicles, creating the appearance of thicker, natural hair. Industry-leading hair filler brands like KeraFiber are carefully formulated, but please remember to always check with your physician before using any additional treatments during chemotherapy.