Scalp cooling is a simple treatment that can help to prevent hair loss caused by chemotherapy (chemotherapy-induced alopecia). Not all chemo drugs cause hair loss, but for those that do, scalp cooling is the only effective solution to this problem.

We know that the prospect of losing your hair can be one of the scariest parts of facing chemotherapy. Scalp cooling can be used by people with solid cancer tumors receiving alopecia inducing chemotherapy drugs. Knowing if cold capping is right for you is a decision only you can make, and it isn’t necessarily an easy one.

During a time when it can feel like everything is out of your control, scalp cooling can help to keep you feeling more like you.

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I am considering Paxman scalp cooling, but want to know more about it.

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I have decided to use, or am using, Paxman scalp cooling and need help navigating the process.

Scalp cooling works in two ways. Most simply, by cooling the scalp, the blood flow to this area reduces to around 40%, meaning that less blood containing the chemotherapy drugs reaches the hair follicles. The cooling also causes the cells in the hair follicles to become dormant, meaning that they no longer rapidly divide, therefore any chemo drugs that do reach the follicles bypass the cells. The scalp reduces in temperature to between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The result is minimized hair loss, and protection for the hair follicles. You must cold cap at every chemotherapy session to see the benefits of hair retention and the protection of follicles.

Scalp cooling results can vary a lot and is dependent on multiple factors including chemotherapy regimen, dose, duration of drug infusion, cap fit and chemotherapy drug metabolism. Everyone responds differently to scalp cooling, even when two people with the same diagnosis are treated with the same drug regimen they are likely to see different hair retention.

There are no hard or fast rules about hair retention, but currently the data looks like this – for taxanes, we see 70-80% of people retaining 50% of their hair. For anthracyclines we see 35-40% of people retaining 50% of their hair. Across the boards there is a 50% chance of retaining 50% of your hair. Some people will retain more, some will retain less.

Clinical data has shown that those who scalp cool will see hair regrowth that is faster, stronger and healthier than those that didn’t scalp cool.

For the majority of people, the first 15 mins can be an intense experience and is often described as feeling like a tight ‘ice cream’ headache. Once you get through that first 15 mins your body will acclimatize and it will turn in to more of a numb feeling, with many people saying they just don’t feel the cold anymore. Like going in to a cold pool, at first it is really cold, but you soon get used to the temperature.

Less than 3% of people find the treatment so intolerable that they discontinue use of the system. Some people have even asked if the system is working properly as it was nowhere near as cold as they though it would be.

Known side effects include chills, dizziness, headache, nausea, paresthesia (an abnormal sensation such as tingling, pins and needles or prickling of the skin), sinus pain and skin ulceration. All of these effects are temporary or transient in duration and are recognized as presenting low risk of harm.

  • Pediatric patients
  • Cancers of the head and neck
  • Cold sensitivity, cold agglutinin disease, cryoglobulinemia, cryofibrinogenemia, cold migraine, cold urticaria and post-traumatic cold dystrophy
  • Hematological malignancies (leukemia, non-Hodgkin and other generalized lymphoma)
  • Skin cancers including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Small cell carcinoma of the lung

Remember, scalp cooling is different for everybody.

Each person’s experience and outcomes from cold capping are different. For some people, this can add more uncertainty to an already stressful and upsetting time. For others, there is a comfort in knowing they tried and all hair retention is a bonus.

While the decision making guide can give you an indication of retention, the scalp cooling process is much more complex than a number. There is so much emotion tied up in cancer treatment and hair loss that the decision of whether scalp cooling is right for you is multi-dimensional.

Be realistic but be positive.

Your guide to Paxman scalp cooling

So, you’ve decided that scalp cooling is for you. You are about to take your first big steps towards doing everything you can to retain your hair.

Scalp cooling can be challenging, but we are here to guide you through every single step along the way, until you complete your chemotherapy and can move on to your next chapter. We know that an informed patient has a better outcome, so we are here to arm you with all the info you need to get the most from your cold capping.

This booklet will give you all sorts of information on the different stages of the scalp cooling experience, so not everything will be relevant for you initially, but please do read it all and refer back when you need to, as this should be your first stop when you have questions or are in any doubt.
You will need to come to your chemotherapy treatments ready to manage the cold cap part of your treatment by yourself or someone to help and support you. This download will explain how to prepare yourself for scalp cooling.
The more familiar you are with the cap fitting processes, the easier it will be on your treatment days.
Please be aware before requesting to join that this group is for people who have used, or are thinking of using the Paxman Scalp Cooling System, and that answering a couple of basic questions is required to join.