Cold Capping with Penguin: What to expect on the day

Published: April 11, 2023

The day has arrived, your first chemo session. You’re probably feeling nervous, it is a daunting prospect, but you can rely on your Penguin rep to ensure everything is prepared for your arrival.

Before you arrive

Your Penguin rep will arrange for your caps to arrive in the days before your first chemo treatment. This gives you the chance to try them on and get used to handling them.

If you’ve booked a professional capper, you don’t need to do anything. If you’re capping yourself, or your partner or a friend is helping you, your rep will provide training and instructions on what to do, but it’s a good idea to practice before your first chemo treatment.

Your Penguin Cold Cap kit will include:

  • Crylon-filled Penguin Cold Caps
    The unique Crylon-gel retains the temperature of the cap and makes them soft and pliable, so they fit comfortably to the scalp.
  • Hairline Crylon-filled gel headbands
    Ensures the cap securely hugs the back and sides of your head to provide extra protection for the hairline.
  • Black velcro elastic straps
    Draws the caps closer to the scalp for an extra snug fit
  • The gold strap
    Acts as the final defence to personalize the fit to your head
  • Thermometer
    To check the caps have reached the optimal temperature.
  • Dry ice cool box (if you’re not using a bio-medical freezer in your clinic)
    A specially designed cool box, perfectly shaped to cool the caps.

How to cool the caps

If you’re using a Penguin cool box and dry ice to cool the caps, you will need to place the caps in the Penguin cool box in advance. Your Penguin rep will help you to find a dry ice provider in your local area, tell you exactly when you need to take delivery, and advise you on how to cool the caps before your chemo session.

If your clinic has a bio-medical freezer that you can use to cool the caps, you’ll need to take them to the center 48 hours before your session to ensure they have enough time to cool.

If you have booked a professional Capper, they will handle everything.

What to take to your chemo session

You want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible and have things to entertain and keep you busy for the duration of your treatment. The caps are cold, so it’s essential to keep yourself warm.

Here are a few suggestions from our reps:

  • A warm blanket, scarf, and socks
  • Nausea relief such as peppermint essential oil or ginger tea
  • A journal to write down how you’re feeling
  • Download a film or Netflix series
  • Headphones for music or mediation
  • Water, juice, and herbal tea
  • Puzzle or a crossword book
  • Healthy snacks
  • Lip balm and fragrance-free moisturizer – chemo can make your skin dry

We asked Penguin Cold Cap patients what they took with them. Here’s what they suggested: What to take to your Cold Cap session

On the day

When do I need to start capping?

If you have a professional capper, they’ll tell you exactly what time to arrive and handle everything for you. If you’re doing it yourself, your Penguin Rep will give you exact instructions on when to start capping, how often you need to change your caps, and how long you need to continue capping after your chemo session has ended.

Whether you’re using a professional capper or a partner, you must start capping about 50 minutes before your first chemo infusion. So, arrange to arrive early and put the first cap on immediately. The clinic will probably want you to arrive early to take blood, check your vitals and administer any pre-meds. Medical staff are generally more than happy to allow you to cold cap while they prepare you for your infusion. So, give yourself enough time to fit the cap before they start.

You’ll need to change the caps every 20 to 25 minutes to maintain the correct temperature. You’ll receive three Penguin Cold Caps so you can keep rotating them – as soon as you take one off, make sure you place it straight back into the cool box or freezer.

As well as ensuring the caps are at the correct temperature and fitted snugly to your head, you must stay hydrated throughout. Drink lots of fluids but avoid drinking soda and caffeine.

What does it feel like?

The first cap will feel very cold – you need to give the nerve endings on your scalp time to numb. But the caps become far more bearable after the first 10 to 15 minutes. Many patients say they expected the worst and were surprised that it wasn’t as bad as they feared.

We asked our patients how it felt, and here’s what they said: What does it really feel like to cold cap?

If you’re worried, we can put you in touch with some of their other patients so you can ask them how they found the experience. Just request a callback.

After your chemo

You must continue wearing the cooled caps for several hours after your chemo. We know this is an inconvenience, but if you’re going to the effort of cold capping in the first place, you want to make sure it works.

The ability to continue capping long after your chemo session has ended is why manual cold capping is far more successful than in-clinic machine cold caps.

You are giving your body the time to dilute and clean out the chemo toxins after your treatment before removing the caps. If you take them off too soon, the chemo will attack the hair follicles as they warm up, resulting in more hair loss.

Make sure you drink lots of water to give your liver a helping hand to flush the toxins out of your system as quickly as possible.

Get in touch

If you’ve just received a cancer diagnosis and are interested in cold capping, we’ll put you in touch with your local rep. They’ll answer all your questions and offer support throughout your treatment.

Please email us at call us on +44 (0)20 8004 4683, or click here to request a callback.

If you have any questions about cold capping, or anything else related to your chemo treatment, why not join the Facebook Chemotherapy Support Group – with thousands of members reaching out to each other, someone will no doubt be able to offer you first hand advice.