For many people, hair is one of the most important parts of their appearance. Because of this, the prospect of losing it during chemotherapy can be traumatic. Chemotherapy targets cells that grow and divide quickly, which makes it effective against the unregulated cell growth of cancer. But that means it can also attack healthy cells that divide quickly, such as hair follicles.
Now an innovation called cold caps might help protect the hair of chemo patients.
They work by drastically reducing the temperature of the scalp. This causes blood vessels to narrow temporarily, slowing the metabolism of the cells, and making it much more difficult for the medicine to attack the follicles.
In December 2015, the DigniCap® scalp cooling system became the first cold cap to receive approval by the FDA. The device circulates cooling fluid around the scalp during the treatment.
The studies conducted so far on cold caps, though small, appear to support the efficacy of the treatment, and the risk of adverse reactions are low.
One notable limitation of the study, which could have skewed the results, was that not everyone loses their hair from chemo, so it's possible that some of the subjects who underwent treatment wouldn't have lost their hair anyway.
Another key caveat is that cold caps have been found to work better for some types of chemo than others.
Even with a cold cap, hair can be delicate after chemo, so patients are advised to avoid applying heat or hair dye, and to minimize washing.
Ready to see the DigniCap in action? Check it out in this impressive spot by DNews:
What do you think of this treatment? Let us know in the comments!