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Cold Caps for Hair Loss

Jan 10, 2024
Scalp Cooling

Cold Caps for Hair Loss

by Kathy Plum MSN, RN

A cancer diagnosis can come with a lot of physical, mental and emotional changes. One physical change with certain chemotherapy treatments is hair loss, or alopecia. For many people, this side effect may cause unwanted stress and changes in their mental health. One way to treat hair loss, and possibly minimize it, involves cooling your scalp during cancer treatments using a device called a cold cap. If you are worried about losing your hair, the cold cap may be the solution for you.

What is scalp cooling?

Some chemotherapy drugs damage hair follicles, causing hair loss. The American Cancer Society says the theory behind scalp cooling (or scalp hypothermia) is that the cooling tightens up, or constricts, the blood vessels in the scalp. This constriction reduces the amount of blood flowing to the cells of the hair follicles, thus restricting the amount of chemo that reaches the hair follicles. The cold also slows the cellular activity of the hair follicles and makes them less attractive to chemo, which targets rapidly dividing cells. With less chemo to attack the now slowly dividing hair cells, the result is a reduction or even prevention of hair loss.

What is a cold cap?

It is a cap that resembles a shower or swim cap that you wear during each chemotherapy treatment. You put it on an hour before the treatment begins and it must stay on an hour after your treatment is complete. The temperature of the cold cap is controlled by a computer to ensure it remains consistently around 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold cap at Baptist Cancer Center

Baptist has partnered with Paxman Cold Cap, who provides this valuable resource for our patients to assist with hair loss and regrowth. Not everyone will have hair loss so this may not be something everyone needs. Only certain chemotherapy causes hair loss.

Although this service is not provided by the Baptist Cancer Center, we do provide the machine and the information so that patients can obtain the product if they wish to do so.

After your initial oncologist visit, a member of your care team will talk to you about getting a cold cap, if it is appropriate for your treatment. If you are interested, we will size you for the cap and send the application to Paxman. They will contact you about payment and will ship you the necessary supplies. We encourage all patients to go to the Paxman website and view the videos so you will be prepared to do the scalp treatment.

Helpful hints

Insurance and financial information

Insurance does not cover the cost of the cold cap. However, Paxman does have a financial assistance application on their website. For more information, please talk to your cancer care navigator and feel free to visit the Paxman-Hub website.