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            The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan

AKUH Introduces Cold Capping – A Way to Reduce Hair Loss from Chemotherapy

<p>​One of the most common symptoms faced by people undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer is hair loss. While hair loss caused by chemotherapy is usually temporary, it is often a stressful and upsetting event for cancer patients, particularly women. Hair loss can damage self-esteem and serve as a constant reminder of the cancer, which can negatively impact the patient&#39;s mental and emotional well-being.</p><p>Cold cap therapy is a method that helps reduce hair loss caused by certain types of chemotherapy. Cold caps are helmet-like devices filled with cold fluid which are connected to machines that patients wear on their heads before, during, and after the chemotherapy session. </p><p><strong>How Do Cold Caps Work? </strong></p><p>The reason hair falls during cancer treatment is because chemotherapy kills rapidly dividing cells like cancer cells; however, it also kills other types of rapidly dividing cells like the ones in hair follicles that are responsible for hair growth. </p><p>Cold caps help protect the hair follicles by cooling down the scalp, which temporarily restricts blood flow to the hair follicles. This means less chemotherapy medication reaches the hair follicle cells, significantly lowering the chances of hair loss. </p><p>Patients wearing the cap will feel some coldness and may experience other minor side effects such as scalp irritation, headaches, and neck and shoulder discomfort. People with a history of headaches or migraines might need to take medication while using a cold cap, after consultation with their doctor. </p><p><strong>Are Cold Caps Effective?</strong></p><p>Yes, cold capping gives patients an average 50% chance of keeping 50% or more of their hair, according to Paxman, the global leaders in scalp cooling. This means you will still lose your hair with cold capping but without it, you will likely lose a lot more, if not all of your hair.</p><p>It is important to have realistic expectations going into the cold capping process. You will still start losing some hair around two weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment, like you would without a cold cap. However, you will have higher chances of retaining a substantial amount of hair as the treatment continues. </p><p>Cold caps have been noted to be most successful in patients with breast cancer and colon cancer, with most people being able to retain at least 50% of their hair. On the other hand, cold caps might be less effective with blood cancers like lymphoma and leukemia since their chemotherapy medication is quite strong. Consult with your oncologist at AKUH to find out if cold cap therapy can work for you in reducing hair loss. </p><p>Every person will have different reactions to cold cap therapy; it might be very effective in retaining hair for some people and not for others. However, according to Paxman, studies have proven that scalp cooling can help lost hair regrow faster, stronger, and healthier. Even if the cold cap does not work in reducing hair loss, it can encourage hair regrowth.</p><p>As with every new treatment, make sure to discuss the pros and cons of cold capping with your oncologist at the Aga Khan University Hospital. ​
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