What is Cold Capping?

Published: April 30, 2021

Before, During & After

Cold capping or scalp cooling, is a drug-free and non-invasive treatment that helps people reduce hair loss from chemotherapy.

Unless you’ve undergone chemo, you are unlikely to have come across cold capping – and even if you’ve had chemo, the chances are you still weren’t told about it. Your medical care team is more interested in getting you better rather than how you look. However, the medical world is slowly coming around to the fact that our personal appearance has a massive impact on how we feel, and therefore how quickly we recover, so many oncologists are starting to suggest cold capping as part of their cancer treatment.

If you’ve been told you need a course of chemo, a thousand questions will pop into your head. One of which is your hair loss – many people are scared of losing their hair with chemo! This has even led to some people rejecting chemo treatment because they couldn’t bear the thought of going bald. This fear is not solely about aesthetics – for many the reasons are far more complex.

The way we look is often linked directly to our self-esteem, and if you’re feeling low your recovery may be affected. Some people don’t want the rest of the world to know they have cancer, such as work colleagues or friends. For others it’s about protecting young children who may be upset if mummy starts to lose her hair – it’s an outward sign that all is not quite right!

As people become more aware of cold capping, increasing numbers of people choose to give it a go and are successfully preventing hair loss after chemotherapy hair.

Cold Capping Fitting

How does cold capping work?

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

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to damage or kill cells that have a ‘fast division rate’, such as cancer cells. Unfortunately, there are also other cells in the human body that also have a fast division rate, including your hair. This similarity makes these cells susceptible to the chemotherapy drugs and causes the unwanted side effect of hair loss.

Cold cap therapy involves fitting a specially designed cap, filled with a very cold gel, snugly onto the patient’s head to cool the scalp. This cools the hair capillaries (blood vessels), reducing the metabolic rate of the follicles so they go into a hibernated state, thereby preventing the hair bulbs from absorbing the chemotherapeutic drugs.

To work most effectively the caps need to be worn for a period of time before starting the chemo session, so the scalp is already cooled before the drugs are transfused. Caps should then continually be worn and regularly changed throughout the whole chemo infusion, maintaining the scalp at the correct cooled temperature. Once chemo infusion has ended caps need to be worn for a period of time afterward to give the body time to dilute and clean out the chemo drug toxins whilst the scalp is still cooled. The length of time will depend on the drug regimen, but your cold capping consultant will be able to advise.

What kind of results can I expect?

Users of the Penguin cold cap therapy system can expect to retain between 60% and 90% of their hair – although the precise amount of hair shedding will largely be determined by the type of chemotherapy drugs as well as your physical wellbeing. For more information about which chemotherapy medications are compatible with cold capping, contact your area representative who will be able to provide you with expert advice. To find your area rep visit our website or email support@penguincoldcaps.com.

Hair Shedding

Many people are concerned about the amount of shedding – but this is normal. As long as the hair loss is even it’s unlikely to show. For more information about shedding read professional capper Claudia Falzarano’s blog: Shedding – Why It’s A Crucial Part of the Capping Process and How to Manage

Different types of cold caps

If you want to know more about the two different types of cold capping available, read our blog Manual vs Machine Capping – which is best for you?

Customer stories

Although cold capping has been around for many years, most people still haven’t heard of it. It’s only when diagnosed with cancer that many people start researching their options and come across Penguin Cold Caps. One of the best ways to find out whether it’s for you is to hear how from other people that have used cold capping to save their hair.

You’ll find loads of customer stories here. Many of our past customers are so happy with the results that they have said they are more than happy to talk to anyone considering using the caps. If that’s you, let us know and we’ll put you in touch.

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.