If you'll be undergoing chemotherapy soon, one concern you may have is losing your hair. Whether you have short hair or long hair, the thought of it falling out is upsetting. There might be a solution to this problem. Cold cap therapy has been used for years in Europe and is gaining popularity in the United States now. You use it during your chemotherapy sessions to reduce the risk of hair loss. Here is an overview of how cold cap therapy works:

How Cold Cap Treatments Prevent Hair Loss

A cold cap is similar in appearance to a swimming cap, except it's thicker due to frozen gel insulation. You wear it on your head while you receive chemotherapy drugs to keep the drugs from damaging your hair follicles. This is possible because the cold cap decreases blood flow in your scalp due to constriction of small blood vessels caused by the cold temperature. With less blood flow, a smaller amount of the chemo drugs reach the hair follicles so there is less damage and less hair loss.

You'll need your doctor's approval to make sure the treatments won't interfere with your cancer therapy. Also, you'll want to find out from your doctor or the manufacturer of the cold cap if the device has been known to work against the type of chemo drugs you'll be taking.

How Cancer Treatment Facilities Offer The Treatments

There are two ways to use cold caps: You can rent the equipment yourself and bring it with you to the cancer treatment center, or you can use equipment provided by the treatment center. It is more convenient to use the facility's equipment for two reasons. For one, it is then considered part of your treatment and the nurse will help you get set up and monitor you. Also, facility treatments are powered by a machine that keeps the cap cool at all times. When you bring your own supplies, you have to bring multiple caps so you can switch them frequently to keep your scalp cool. Not every treatment center is equipped to offer cool cap therapy, but it is becoming more common in larger cities.

How To Take The Treatments Yourself

If your cancer center doesn't offer cold cap therapy, you can rent the supplies you need and give the treatments to yourself while you undergo your chemotherapy sessions. There are several manufacturers of cold caps, and each has their own protocol for using their devices. The general method is to place a cold cap on several minutes before chemotherapy begins so your scalp can cool down. Then, you'll need to change the cap regularly throughout the chemotherapy so your cap always stays cool. You may need to check the temperature with a laser thermometer or you may just adhere to a timetable. You'll also need to leave a cap on for a few hours after chemotherapy is complete.

This method requires several caps and coolers to keep them cold. You'll need at least one helper to go with you to treatments so they can deal with the caps while you're being treated. Some cancer treatment facilities will provide a biomedical freezer for you to use so you don't have to rely on coolers to keep your caps at the proper temperature. If you're going to give the treatments to yourself, this is something to ask about because it makes temperature control much easier.

You don't have to buy the cold caps and accessories for using them. You rent the equipment by the month to use as long as you're undergoing chemotherapy. When you rent the equipment, you receive all the supplies you need as well as complete instruction in how to use the caps to get the best results. Dealing with cancer and chemotherapy is emotional enough without having hair loss, too. Cold cap therapy might be one way to make your cancer journey a little less stressful.