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How to prevent hair loss on chemo

Published: 03 Sep 2021

For many people diagnosed with cancer, hair loss on chemo is an unfortunate side-effect of the chemotherapy treatment. And although on the face of it, it may seem a small price to pay to stop the cancer, it can have an enormous effect on a patient’s mental wellbeing and ability to cope and recover from their treatment.

Oncologists are traditionally trained to focus on the medical aspects of the condition, and for them, hair loss on chemo is often way down on the agenda. However, increasingly, oncologists and their teams of nurse navigators are becoming more mindful of the importance of holistically treating the overall wellbeing of the patient – and not just the disease.

So, if losing your hair is worrying you, speak to your oncology team. They should be able to offer advice and, in many instances, signpost you to cold cap therapy, including Penguin Cold Caps.

Why do chemotherapy drugs result in hair loss?

Some types of chemotherapy are more likely to cause hair loss than others – so talk to your oncologist so you know what to expect from your specific drug regimen.

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to damage or kill cells that have a ‘fast division rate’, such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, other cells in the body also have a fast division rate, including your hair follicles. This similarity means that these cells are susceptible to chemotherapy drugs and this is what causes hair loss.

In most cases, hair loss on chemo begins within two to four weeks of starting chemotherapy and the degree of hair loss can vary, depending on the type and dose of your chemotherapy.

Is hair loss from chemo temporary?

Most of the time, hair loss on chemo is temporary and it will start to grow back within three to six weeks of finishing treatment. Some people find that their hair grows back in a different shade or texture – but over time this more often than not reverts to your original hair type.

Wearing a cold cap during chemotherapy can dramatically reduce your hair loss. These are caps that are filled with a very cold gel, that you wear just before, during, and after your chemo infusion. They cool down your hair follicles and send them into a state of hibernation for a while, which stops them from absorbing the chemotherapy drugs coursing through your body.

No bald patches

Penguin Cold Cap patients report saving between 60% and 90% of their hair. With Penguin caps hair loss on chemo is spread evenly lost across the entire scalp, which means even if you do lose some hair, it’s not noticeable. Unlike some other machine-based scalp cooling treatments, Penguin Cold Cap patients do not experience bald patches.

Penguin Cold Cap patient stories

There is no better way to find out what it’s like than hearing from the people who have used Penguin Cold Caps to prevent hair loss on chemo. What’s more, many of our customers are so amazed at their results, they are happy for us to put you in touch to find out what it’s really like.

Dina's Cold Capping Story

Dina's Story
“I was on the strongest and still kept 95% of my hair”

People mean well when they tell you to ‘Rock the no-hair look’ and that the most important thing is your health. And obviously, it is. But I felt that saving my hair was important too, not just for my looks but also my mental well-being.

Read Dina’s Story

Nicole's Story

Nicole’s Story
“It felt as if I was able to take back control”

It felt as if I was able to take back control at a time in my life when I had very little power over what was happening to me. And after chemo, I was able to move on and resume life on my terms far quicker than if I’d had to wait for my hair to grow back.

Read Nicole’s Story

Erin's story

Erin’s Story
“I'm shocked at how well cold capping worked”

My children are so young – I didn’t want cancer to be this big scary change for them. I wanted to stay looking like their Mama. Saving my hair was one way I could keep their lives as normal as possible.

Read Erin’s Story

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For more information about how cold capping works go to What is Cold Capping?

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.