What is Scalp Cooling?

‘Scalp cooling’ has been shown to be an effective way of keeping your hair during chemotherapy.

Why does chemo cause hair to fall out and why is it an issue?

Throughout history hair has been associated with strength, power and beauty. The loss of hair can cause anxiety in an already stressful situation.

Chemo works by attacking cells that divide quickly, such as cancer cells. The cells that make up our hair also quickly divide; this is hair growth. When chemo attacks these cells, it causes them to fall out, resulting in hair loss.

What can you do about it?

Find out how Scalp Cooling works:

Find out how Scalp Cooling works:

Your treating doctor will be able to tell you whether Scalp Cooling will work for you. Scalp Cooling works the following way:

  • When chemo is given through a vein, it goes through your bloodstream to every part of your body, including your scalp and hair follicles 
  • If you reduce the amount of chemo going to your scalp, you’ll potentially minimise the amount of chemo going to the hair follicles - leading to less or no hair loss 
  • Cold caps are tightly fitted caps that fit snugly over your head. Chin straps ensure that the surface of the cap is as close to your scalp as possible
  • The cold caps contain glycerin-based hydrogel, which is what radically lowers the temperature of your head. What happens? Less blood goes to the scalp, leading to less blood entering the hair follicles and fewer hairs falling out
Is scalp cooling right for me?

Is scalp cooling right for me?

Scalp cooling can be a blessing for those not wanting to lose their hair. It is not for everyone, though. Please keep in mind the following when deciding if scalp cooling is right for you

  • Scalp cooling does not work for all chemotherapies or cancers. Talk to your nurse or treating doctor about whether you could benefit from scalp cooling
  • Scalp cooling takes time. You need to wear the cold cap before and after your chemo has been given, which could add time to your appointment
  • Scalp cooling requires your hair to be wet. Many hospitals don’t have hair dryers for patient use, so you may need to leave the hospital with wet hair
  • Scalp cooling can be uncomfortable. If you find scalp cooling difficult, speak to your nurse about having pain relief before starting
  • Scalp cooling results differ from person to person. Some patients have mild hair loss with scalp cooling, and for some, it does not work for other reasons. It is always good to have a standby hat or scarf in case there are areas of thinning
  • Scalp cooling should be done with every chemo treatment. If you have already started your chemo treatment, you are unlikely to benefit from scalp cooling