Hair loss during chemotherapy
Chemotherapy works by attacking fast-growing cells, such as cancer cells, intestinal and oral cavity lining and hair follicles. The majority, but not all chemotherapy drugs are known to cause hair loss. This usually starts 3-4 weeks after the first cycle and is temporary. The hair then regrows 4-6 months after stopping the chemotherapy. Once hair regrows back, it can have different textures and volumes.
Impact of Hair loss
A diagnosis of cancer in itself is so emotionally challenging, and the side effects of chemotherapy further haunt you. The most visible side effect in your routine life is hair loss. It leads to a change in your appearance to a great level affecting your self-confidence and your social, personal and professional life.
Reducing hair loss by Scalp cooling technology
By cooling the scalp, blood vessels narrow, which result in less chemotherapy reaching the hair follicles. In addition, cooler hair follicles become inactive, making them less susceptible to the treatment. This results in reduced hair loss. Based on various clinical trials this technology is now approved by regulatory authorities in USA & Europe.
Who can use scalp cooling?
All women and men who are undergoing chemotherapy for various cancers and desirous of preserving their hair are eligible for it. All solid tumors patients especially breast cancer, sarcomas ovarian cancers, germ cell tumors of the testis.
How effective is scalp cooling?
Each person’s experience and outcomes from cold capping are different. The effects depend upon the type of tumor, chemotherapy drugs, duration and dose. The effects are best seen when you start using it from the first cycle of chemotherapy. The cool cap can preserve hair in 30-70% of patients. Even with scalp cooling, it’s normal to lose some hair (shedding) soon after you start treatment but it may not result in complete hair loss. If some amount of hair loss happens scalp cooling will surely promote stronger, healthier and faster regrowth in 1-2 months.
Are there any side effects of scalp cooling?
Most people tolerate it well, but 25-30 % of them may have some mild side effects during treatment such as headache, chills, dizziness, scalp pain. These side effects are temporary and there is no permanent damage to the body. It does not interfere at all with the efficacy of chemotherapy in controlling the tumor.
How to prepare yourself for scalp colling?
Before your visit to a daycare centre, you shall use a soft conditioner so as to keep your hair clean and wet. This helps the cap to fit snugly and tightly, especially if you have more hair volume.
The cap is applied 30 mins prior (during the premedication phase) to starting chemotherapy, it is continued during chemotherapy infusion and then for another 2 hrs after stopping the chemotherapy. 2- 3 bio breaks are allowed during scalp colling. You can take hot liquids, watch your laptop, sit and chat with your relatives during the infusion and no special isolation is required either during or after the scalp cooling.
Haircare during scalp cooling
When using cold caps throughout chemotherapy treatment, it’s smart to be extra gentle with your hair to prevent damage and help maintain hair quality. There are no hard and fast rules, but below is some simple advice
- Use a gentle shampoo
- Comb and brush gently, avoid pulling or tying it hard.
- Avoid dyeing your hair until 2 months after chemotherapy is done
- Avoid using blow dryers, hot rollers, and straightening iron.