Top 7 reasons why people cold cap to save their hair on chemo

Published: January 31, 2022

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is always an unwelcome shock. For most people, the instant emotional response is fear of their own mortality. But as the first shock waves subside, thoughts turn to the treatment regimen and its unavoidable side effects. The most evident and dramatic of which is loss of hair.

Penguin Cold Caps has helped thousands of people save their hair from chemo for over 20 years. We always ask our patients why they want to save their hair, and you may be surprised to hear that it’s not only about looking good – in fact, that’s usually way down the list.

The real reasons people choose to cold cap are far more complex than just a desire to maintain their appearance. Here are the top seven most common reasons why people choose to cold cap with Penguin to save their hair:

Erin wearing a Penguin Cold Cap

Erin wants to protect her children

I want to protect my young children

Many of our patients have young children. They want to avoid any outward signs that they’re sick so as not to scare them.

Erin was just 31 years old with two very young children when she underwent chemo.

She said, “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, and saving my hair was one way I could keep their lives as normal as possible.”

Read Erin’s story

I want to protect my mental health

Many people told us that they felt losing their hair would severely impact their mental health. They knew they had to stay strong and positive to cope with the cancer and get through the gruelling treatment. They felt that losing their hair could harm their road to recovery.

Mollie is a mom to two teenagers and a ten-year-old.

She said, “I want to change the dialogue around cold capping to focus on the importance of mental health during treatment. It can literally transform your outlook for the better. For me, keeping my hair was a bonus, but saving my mental health was a lifesaver.”

Shanti cold capping with Penguin

Shanti wants to continue to work

I want to carry on working without customers and work colleagues knowing

Patients working in customer face roles were most likely to tell us that keeping their hair was vital so they could confidently continue to do their job.

Shanti is a VP of sales for a foodservice distributor in Southern California.

She said, “I travel a lot, both within the Southern California area, as well as across the country. Consequently, I have many face-to-face meetings with other people. I felt losing my hair would be a signal to others that I was battling cancer, and I did not want work colleagues or customers to see or treat me differently.”

Read Shanti’s story

I don’t want people to feel sorry for me

Avoiding the pity of others was the reason why many people choose to cold cap to save their hair. Although people mean well when they place their hand on your leg, tilt their head to one side and say ‘I feel so sorry for you’ – no one likes to be treated like a helpless victim. Unfortunately, hair loss is likely to garner this kind of response from unwitting friends, family, and colleagues.

I want to choose who I do and don’t tell

Your cancer diagnosis is yours to do as you wish on a need-to-know basis only. So, unless you’re the type of person that might be inclined to their head on a whim (and let’s face it, that’s not many of us), hair loss is an instant sign that something is wrong. Wearing a wig is an option, but wearing one all the time, especially when the weather is hot, can be very uncomfortable.

Lyn told us, “How I look is important to me, but even more important was not advertising to the world that I was a cancer victim. I wanted to keep my health status private, limited to just those I chose to share it with.”

Nicole wears a Penguin Cold Cap

Nicole wants to stay in control by saving her hair

I need to stay in control of something

Cancer is not something you can control. Once you’ve received a diagnosis, you effectively relinquish control to your oncologist and medical team. Your life is in their hands. For many people, retaining their hair is something they can control – a way of fighting back.

Nicole lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two boys, who were just five and eight at the time of her cancer diagnosis.

She said, “The entire experience helped to empower me. 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.

Read Nicole’s story

I want to get back to normal as soon as possible

Resuming everyday life after treatment is another common reason chemo patients choose to cold cap. Once the treatment is over, and the cancer has gone, most people want to put it behind them and get back to normal as soon as possible. And whilst your body has recovered, your hair can take many more months to grow back to how it was before.

Nicole explains, “Because of Penguin Cold Caps, 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.”

If you’ve just received a cancer diagnosis and any of these concerns resonate with you, we’ll put you in touch with your local rep. They will be able to answer all your questions about cold capping and offer support throughout your treatment.

Email us on call us on +44 (0)20 8004 4683 or click here to request a call back.

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.