Location: the United States of America

Why do people scalp cool?

The reasons people choose to scalp cool are often a lot more complicated than just trying to keep their hair. Here you can find out - why do people scalp cool?

Scalp cooling motivations

The reasons people choose to scalp cool range from the simple to the complex. For most, it is a really personal decision, and the motivations behind that choice can be as unique as the person making it.

Not wanting to lose your hair is reason enough.

We have also heard other amazing reasons why patients have chosen to scalp cool. One patient didn’t want to lose her hair in case her mother, who had advanced dementia, didn’t recognize her. Another wanted to retain her hair, so she didn’t have to explain her cancer diagnosis to her autistic teenager. For many patients, retaining their hair means being able to continue working through their diagnosis.

Retaining your hair can provide privacy, normalcy and an element of control while you are dealing with one of the most challenging situations there is.
Any reason to want to scalp cool is a good reason

Being realistic in your expectations of scalp cooling

It’s completely normal to have high hopes for scalp cooling. Having a positive outlook will help a lot when going through the process, but it is also important to ensure that you are realistic in your scalp cooling expectations.

Unfortunately, scalp cooling cannot and will not save all of your hair. If you are hoping to come out of chemotherapy looking exactly the same as you did at the start, you will be disappointed. However, while scalp cooling isn’t perfect, for most people it is better than the alternative. It can be useful to remember that without scalp cooling you would likely see complete hair loss in the space of a couple of days, around 2 weeks after your first chemotherapy treatment.

Learning about scalp cooling will help you to set realistic expectations, and we know that an informed patient has a better outcome – the more you know, the more empowered you will feel about making a decision on scalp cooling and more comfortable with your outcomes.
  1. Read the patient case studies – they give an insight into the experience of patients that have been through scalp cooling (look out for someone with similar hair and/or regimen to you)
  2. Use the Scalp Cooling Outcomes Calculator – it will give you an idea of possible hair retention with your regimen
  3. Join the private Facebook Group – it’s a supportive international community of people who are sharing their experiences of scalp cooling right now

Definitions of success

Everyone’s idea of success with scalp cooling is different.

From a clinical perspective, a successful scalp cooling outcome is considered to be 50% or more of a patient’s hair being retained and the patient not feeling the need to wear a head covering.

In reality, outside of a clinical trial setting, it is much more complicated than that - one person’s disappointing outcome is another person’s ideal. A good indicator of success would be if you can walk down the street and strangers don’t know you are going through chemotherapy – many consider this a good outcome.

However, scalp cooling isn’t just about hair retention. It has been clinically proven to encourage faster hair regrowth, even if a patient sees significant hair loss. The long-term benefits of having a full, if short, head of hair at 3 to 6 months after chemo is viewed by some patients as a success.

Studies also show that scalp cooling can prevent persistent chemotherapy-induced alopecia that can occur if a patient is receiving high cumulative dosages of a taxane drug called docetaxel (Taxotere). The protection to the follicles that scalp cooling delivers may not always be able to prevent hair loss in the short term but can make a big difference in the long term.

It is worth taking some time to consider what would be a good outcome for you, because success comes in many forms.
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It allowed me to tell who I wanted to tell, as I still looked like me, and it meant cancer wouldn’t take anything away from me.

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Scalp cooling haircare