Will cold capping save my hair on chemo?

Published: November 30, 2023

Facing breast cancer treatment with chemotherapy can be a daunting journey. One of the most distressing side effects is the potential loss of your hair, impacting both your physical appearance and emotional well-being.

It’s a visible sign of the battle you’re waging against cancer, and can be a stark reminder of the changes happening within your body. This is why some patients choose to cold cap, also known as scalp cooling, to save their hair.

But you may be be wondering: Will cold capping work for me? Will it save my hair on chemo?

Understanding the mechanism

Before we delve into whether cold capping will work for you, let’s discuss how it works.

Cold capping is a non-invasive procedure that involves wearing a specially designed cap on your head before, during, and after chemotherapy sessions. This cold cap is filled with a cooling gel and is chilled to a specific temperature, usually ranging from -24 to -32 degrees Celsius, depending on the type of cold cap used. The cooling effect constricts the blood vessels in your scalp, reducing the flow of blood and infusion of chemotherapy drugs to your hair follicles. In simple terms, it puts your hair follicles into a kind of temporary hibernation, making them less vulnerable to the toxic effects of chemotherapy.

What to expect on the day?

Effectiveness for hair preservation

Now, let’s address the big question: Does cold capping work? The answer is both encouraging and nuanced.

Success Rates:

Cold capping is proven to be highly effective for many patients. Success rates can vary depending on factors such as the specific chemotherapy drugs used, individual physiology, and the type of cold capping technology employed. Some patients experience minimal to no hair loss, while others may see a significant reduction in hair thinning or shedding.

Emily with her family

User Testimonials:

Many chemo patients who have undergone scalp cooling / cold capping have shared their experiences.

Meg, a Penguin Cold Cap user, stated, “It has not only saved my hair during chemo, cold capping has also given me the confidence to face my cancer diagnosis with positivity and hope.”

Emily also saved her hair with Penguin. She adds, “I am extremely grateful for Penguin cold caps. Saving my hair on chemo has done huge things for my mental health during my cancer journey.”

Discover the feedback from other users about Penguin Cold Caps and how they have benefited from using scalp cooling.

Type of Chemotherapy:

The effectiveness of cold capping can be influenced by the type of chemotherapy regimen you’re undergoing. Some chemo drugs are more likely to cause hair loss than others. For instance, taxanes like docetaxel and paclitaxel are known for their hair-thinning effects, but cold capping (scalp cooling) has been successful in reducing hair loss for many chemotherapy patients.

Check your drug regimen with Penguin Cold Caps

Personal Factors:

Your success with cold capping may also be influenced by personal factors. Everyone’s body responds differently to chemo, and what works for one person may not work the same way for another. It’s essential to have realistic expectations and consult with your medical team or a cold capping (scalp cooling) provider to determine if it’s a suitable option for you.

Clinical Trials:

Many clinical trials have examined the effectiveness of cold capping for chemotherapy. A notable study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Oncology) [Reference 1] found that scalp cooling significantly reduced the risk of chemotherapy-induced hair loss in breast cancer patients. The results showed that patients who used scalp cooling were less likely to experience severe hair loss, enhancing their overall quality of life during treatment.

The evidence that cold cap therapy works

Taking Control of Your Journey

While cold capping doesn’t guarantee that you won’t lose any hair during chemotherapy, it does offer a valuable opportunity to take some control over your journey. It can help you maintain a sense of normalcy, reduce the emotional burden of hair loss, and allow you to decide how you want to handle this aspect of your cancer treatment.

So, will cold capping save your hair on chemo? The answer lies in its proven effectiveness for many patients, but individual results can vary. It’s a tool that provides hope and a sense of empowerment during a challenging time. If you’re considering cold capping, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare team and explore the options available to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will cold capping prevent hair loss during chemotherapy?

Yes, cold capping can help reduce hair loss during chemotherapy by cooling the scalp and limiting the impact of the treatment on hair follicles. It’s not guaranteed to save all your hair, but it can significantly minimize hair loss.

How effective is cold capping in preserving hair during chemo?

The effectiveness of cold capping varies from person to person. While some individuals experience minimal hair loss, others may still undergo significant shedding. Factors such as the type of chemotherapy drugs used and individual response play a role in its effectiveness.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with cold capping?

Cold capping may cause headaches or discomfort during the treatment process due to the low temperatures applied to the scalp. Some patients may find it initally challenging to tolerate the sensation of coldness for an extended period.

Can anyone undergoing chemotherapy use cold cap therapy?

Not everyone is a suitable candidate for cold cap therapy. Individuals with certain types of cancer or receiving specific chemotherapy drugs might not be recommended for this method due to its potential impact on treatment efficacy.

How do I know if cold capping is right for me?

Consult with your oncologist and a specialized cold cap provider to determine if you are a good candidate for this technique. They can assess your medical history, type of chemotherapy, and overall health to provide personalized recommendations.


If you’re about to undergo chemotherapy and would like to find out more about cold capping, request a callback and one of  our qualified Penguin Cold Cap reps will give you a call.

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