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Did you know there are ways of preventing chemotherapy-induced hair loss?

We are always prepared to address every bodily concern you may have when fighting cancer. Regardless of whether it is during the initial diagnostic stages, the post-treatment stages, or when dealing with the side-effects of treatment. Studies have shown that hair loss is one of the most upsetting chemotherapy-induced side effects for female cancer patients who may suffer from depression and immense psychological pressure on discovering their hair loss, which negatively impacts their quality of life.


Nonetheless, cryotherapy may help prevent hair loss that results from certain types of chemotherapy drugs. This includes the British-made PAXMAN scalp cooling system, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States and certified by the European Union with CE marking. Since these cold cap systems arrived in the 1970s, the PAXMAN system alone has helped over 100,000 cancer patients in 32 countries worldwide reduce their hair loss problems.


As research has revealed, more than half the female cancer patients that had cryotherapy lost fewer than 50% of their hair when receiving chemotherapy. The side-effects observed were likewise milder and were usually only short term. This has made it an increasingly popular option for chemotherapy patients.


Why does chemotherapy cause hair loss?

Chemotherapy itself, targets and curbs the growth of rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells, such that the growth of tumours is suppressed. Because hair also is one of the fastest dividing types of cells in the human body, it is also affected by chemotherapy. By around 2 to 3 weeks into chemotherapy, patients may begin to observe hair loss. Before hair begins falling out, your scalp may feel itchy or irritated. The severity of hair loss varies according to each patient, and not all chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. Upon suspension of the chemotherapy, your hair may quickly resume growth. Apart from the hair on your scalp, hair in other forms, on the body, arms, legs, chest, pubic region or even around the eyes may also be affected. As scalp cooling only works on the hair on your head, other body hair may still fall out.

How does PAXMAN’s scalp cooling system work?

By using the PAXMAN’s scalp cooling system, the scalp’s temperature can be lowered and kept at 18°C by the cold cap worn by the patient. The cap is worn before, during and after the treatment. The cooler temperature leads to the contraction of blood vessels in the scalp, thus constricting the blood flow to hair follicles by between 60 – 80%. As such, fewer chemotherapy drugs reach the scalp, thus reducing the damage to hair follicles. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of cryotherapy depends on a wide range of factors, including the type of chemotherapy drug in use, the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s age, hair type, and their overall health.


Currently, scalp cooling treatment is only effective when used with certain types of chemotherapy drugs, and the effect varies from person to person. Before starting scalp cooling, patients should talk with their doctors and nurses to learn more.

What do you need to know when having cryotherapy?

  1. Patients wear the PAXMAN silicon cooling cap on their head at least 30 minutes before chemotherapy. The PAXMAN scalp cooling system should be activated for pre-cooling, such that the target temperature is reached before beginning the chemotherapy process begins.
  2. Each person has a different level of tolerance towards scalp cooling. Based on previous experience, patients may feel discomfort or pain during the first 10 – 15 minutes, which should subside afterwards as the scalp adapts to the cooler conditions.
  3. In the initial stages of cryotherapy, deep breathing may not only help patients to relax but also to mitigate stress and control emotions.
  4. The cold cap should be kept on throughout the entire process of chemotherapy and at least 90 minutes after the treatment.
  5. When cryotherapy concludes, nurses will assist patients with removing the cold cap. Patients are then free to leave the clinic as soon as they like.
  6. It is normal for a thin layer of frost to be found on hair or the scalp following cryotherapy.

Conditions that may make you ineligible for scalp cooling treatment

  • Leukaemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma, etc.
  • Cold urticaria
  • Cold agglutinin disease (a type of autoimmune haemolytic anaemia)
  • Cancer cells that have already spread to the scalp
  • Planned bone marrow ablation chemotherapy
  • Planned head CT or MRI scan
  • Did not receive cryotherapy during the initial chemotherapy treatment
  • Requires high-dose chemotherapy
  • Improper pancreatic function (Causes chemotherapy drugs to remain in one’s body for longer periods, hence exceeding the effective period of cryotherapy.)
  • Severe migraines

Hair care tips for cancer patients

Normally, the hair of cancer patients returns to normal in about 4 to 12 months after chemotherapy. Hair type may not be the same as before when hair begins to regrow. For example, patients with straight hair may grow curly hair at first, which with time will return to normal.

Patients commonly experience a tingly scalp when hair first starts to grow, it is thus essential to clean the scalp regularly. Here are some tips for daily cleaning:




  • Wash your hair at least once every two days
  • Use baby shampoo with a mild cleansing effect
  • Only apply conditioner from mid-length to the ends




  • Use a large comb or soft brush to reduce friction
  • Try to avoid using a hairdryer or hair curlers every day
  • Avoid towel rubbing your hair
  • Refrain from massaging or scratching your scalp
  • Wear a soft hat or head scarf at night
  • Avoid perming and dyeing your hair
  • Use fragrance-free moisturizers for other places with body hair


Daily Activities


  • Do not tie your hair tightly
  • Be mindful of sun protection for your scalp; consider wearing a hat or headscarf or use a parasol and sunscreen
  • Protect your head from strong sunlight or very cold temperatures
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from direct sun rays and dust if your lashes have fallen out


At sleep


  • Avoid nylon-based bedding which can easily cause scalp irritation
  • Choose natural fibres or materials, such as cotton and silk for pillows
  • Use a headscarf to keep your scalp warm when sleeping