Chemo hair loss is not inevitable

Published: September 20, 2021

Most people assume that if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and told you need chemo, you will lose your hair. But this is not the case – chemo hair loss is not inevitable. And here’s why.

A cancer diagnosis is devastating news – but it’s something almost 4 out of 10 of us will receive at some point during our lives. Despite this, most of us never think it will happen to us – so we are completely unprepared when it does!

Have you heard about cold capping for chemo hair loss?

Thought not… why would you? The only time you’ll need to know what a cold cap is, is if you need chemo.

A recent poll carried out on the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group revealed that over 70% of people had never heard of scalp cooling or cold capping before they had cancer. Yet it’s been around for over 20 years.

Cold Capping is a non-invasive, drug-free way of reducing chemo hair loss by cooling the temperature of the scalp during treatment.

To find out more: What is cold capping?

Penguin Cold Caps are the original cold cap company

They developed the first cold cap in 1992 and launched Penguin Cold Caps in 1997, after several years of research and development. Since then, Penguin has continued to improve the cold cap therapy system, so that chemo patients can now expect to save an average of 80% of their hair.

How does it work?

Chemotherapy drugs damage or kill cells that have a ‘fast division rate’, such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, there are also other cells in the body that have a fast division rate, including your hair. This similarity means that the chemo drugs unintentionally target hair follicle cells too – which leads to chemo hair loss.

Penguin Cold Cap caps are filled with a specially formulated Crylon Gel that remains malleable even when cooled to ultra-low temperatures. This means it sits snugly on your scalp, cooling the hair root and capillaries to send them into a hibernated state. The cold prevents the hair bulbs from absorbing the chemo drugs, and this is how cold caps can save your hair.

Read How to prevent hair loss on chemo

There are two different types of chemotherapy – Portable Capping and Machine Capping

Portable capping

Margaret wears a portable cold cap from Penguin

This type of cold capping offers the most flexibility because you can cold cap anywhere (even at home) and move around whilst wearing the caps.

Before you start your chemo session, you’ll need to cool the caps. Penguin Cold Caps will provide you with a special cool box and thermometer, and your Penguin rep will help you to source the dry ice needed to cool the caps.

The benefits:

  • You can cold cap anywhere
  • You are free to move to around whilst wearing the caps
  • You can start to cold cap before your chemo to ensure your hair follicles are already in a hibernated state before the chemo drugs enter your body
  • You can continue to wear the caps after your chemo session has finished, giving the drugs time to dilute and leave your body before your scalp warms up
  • Patients report better results than machine capping because the scalp is cooled for a significant time before and after the chemo infusion
  • Patients suffer from fewer bald patches because the malleable gel-filled caps closely hug the surface area of the scalp

The disadvantages:

  • You need to source the dry ice in advance
  • You need to change the caps every 20-30 minutes
  • You may need a friend, partner, or professional cold capper to help you switch over the caps and keep them cool

Machine capping

Some chemotherapy clinics will have a cold cap therapy machine, also known as an automated scalp cooling system. This is a computer-controlled refrigeration machine that is attached to a cap. The refrigeration machine circulates cool liquid through the cap throughout the chemotherapy infusion session.

The benefits:

  • You don’t need to keep changing the caps
  • You don’t need to bring anything with you (caps, cooler, or dry ice)

The disadvantages:

  • Machine capping is not available in most chemo clinics
  • You cannot cold cap for a long either before or after the chemotherapy session, which means the chemo drugs can enter the hair bulbs before and after they go into a hibernated state
  • Patients cannot easily move away from the machine throughout the chemo infusion, including using the bathroom
  • Patients have reported suffering from severe hair thinning because the cap does not extract the heat from the head as efficiently as the portable cold caps

Which cold capping company should I use?

The best way to judge a cold cap system and company is by asking the people that have used them. Here at Penguin Cold Caps, we have been helping people protect themselves against chemo hair loss for more than 20 years. As a result, we have lots of customer stories, detailing their experience of using Penguin Cold Caps. Many of these customers are so pleased with the results they want others to benefit too and are happy for us to put you in touch with any questions you may have.

If you want us to put you in touch with a Penguin Cold Cap user complete the call-back form below.

Read Penguin Cold Cap customer stories

Read the Top 5 tips to help you choose the right cold cap provider