The Cold Cap ❄️
Since mentioning scalp cooling in a previous blog I’ve had feedback that many people have no idea what this cold cap malarkey is all about SO let’s talk about it! In short the aim of scalp cooling is to try and preserve your hair and prevent hair loss! It’s the chemo not the cancer that causes your hair to fall out - a common misjudgement! As cancer cells grow rapidly and out of control, chemo is designed to target fast growing cells- THAT INCLUDES YOUR HAIR CELLS. We all know someone that moults hair for England as standard! Research is ongoing but scalp cooling has proven effective in some cases to save your hair! 💇🏼♀️
HOW DOES IT WORK!? Literally, cooling your scalp reduces blood flow to it and means less chemo is gonna get there to kill those hair cells! Chemo hasn’t quite figured out the difference between the nasties and the normal cells entirely 🙄. BUT that’s why we need to fund more research so patients like me in the future may be able to go into treatment with full confidence that they will keep their hair!- I can dream 😍
The cold cap process is fairly tedious and you do look like abit of a tit 🙈. The Paxman machine I used is luckily funded by the NHS but many people across the world fund all this themselves! Generally, most patients with solid cancers undergoing chemo can be offered scalp cooling. Unfortunately those with blood cancer like where I work cannot as it’s too risky that some cancer cells will live on due to reducing blood flow by cooling the scalp!
In prep, the machine needs to be on a good half n hour to get to temperature approx -4!. Be prepared if you‘re going for scalp cooling as your appointment time will likely be 2 hours longer! Your hair must be wet and some people use a conditioner too to prevent your hair getting too icey and sticking to the cap- YES ITS THAT COLD 🥶 Advisable to allow yourself to defrost for a good ten minutes before removing it 😂. They used a spray bottle with mine and then the cap goes directly on- they come in different sizes and your nurse will find the right snug fit! The inner cap looks like a weird brain and literally has cold fluid flowing through it to keep you chilly!
This is the cold one and did make my eyes water as it touched my head! BUT don’t be put off it is short lived and totally tolerable the rest of the time! Worth it 🤞 . Once the inner cap is in place the outer cap goes on to keep it secure and fastened with a chin strap. The inner cap can dig in to your forehead a bit so using a fabric head band can help cushion it! I will be testing this on round 2! 👊 I had gauze wedged in mine last time which still kind of worked!
In order for scalp cooling to work you MUST have it from you’re first treatment otherwise it is too late. It is also a myth that if your hair has or is falling out then it hasn’t worked and there’s no point carrying on with scalp cooling. WRONG!! Scalp cooling protects your hair follicles and even if it does fall out it is going to help with re-growth and help ensure your hair grows back similar to what it was! Who knew that the style of your hair- straight or wavy is determined by the shape of your hair follicles! Chemo can fu** that up too and that’s why some people have totally different hair afterwards!!
Hope this has shed some light and more info can be found on the Paxman site linked on my website! (There are also several hair care tips to follow and certain products that can help! ☺️).
Positive: Working and specialising in oncology I never thought I would be experiencing it BUT doing this first hand improves my knowledge and we can educate others! Who knows maybe a breast cancer nurse specialist will be in my future- everything happens for a reason right! 🤷♀️