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New Therapy Allows Chemo Patients to Keep More Hair
by Jane Meggitt
For many people, going through chemotherapy is as difficult as the cancer diagnosis. For patients diagnosed with breast and other cancers who otherwise feel fine, losing hair through chemo brings home the fact they have a potentially deadly disease. Going bald because of chemo is traumatic, but a simple therapy allows patients to keep more hair. Long available in Europe, it is now catching on in the United States.
Cold Cap Treatment
Cold cap treatment consists of using specially designed hypothermia caps on the heads of patients prior, during and after chemo infusion sessions. The treatment operates on the theory that cold restricts the scalp’s blood vessels, so chemo drugs don’t reach the head’s hair follicles.
While patients will lose some hair, the cold cap treatment can preserve as much as 80 percent of your tresses. Results vary according to patients and the type of chemo used. Breast cancer patients often receive the “AC” combination of chemotherapy drugs – Adriamycin and cyclophosphamide – and these medications cause significant hair loss. If your chemo drugs consist of taxanes, using the cold cap should allow you to keep most of your hair.
Tips for Keeping Hair
If you’re using a cold cap, you must stay diligent to keep your hair during your chemo regimen. Wash your hair only in cold water, and use a gentle shampoo. Do not wash hair vigorously. Avoid conditioners – use pH balanced detangling sprays instead. After each chemo session, change the part line in your hair to protect your scalp. Even in a best-case scenario, you may have thinning exposing parts of the scalp.
You may need to change your hairstyle during chemo. Wear it down, not on top of the head or in any style involving tension, including ponytails. Curling irons and similar heat devices are out. That applies to using blow dryers at anything but the “cool” setting. It takes hair a long time to recover from chemo’s effects, so don’t color or use other harsh chemicals on your hair for at least three months after your final chemo session.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and must undergo chemotherapy, consult your oncologist regarding cold cap therapy. While insurers will generally pay for wigs, you’ll likely have to foot the bill for cold cap therapy. When contacting a cold cap company, ask about their success rates with the types of chemo drugs you’re receiving.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hair loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!