How well is scalp cooling tolerated?

Patients usually find the first 10 to 15 minutes of scalp cooling to be very cold and uncomfortable. After that, they get accustomed to the cold. Patients generally report a score above 7 when they are asked how they tolerated the scalp cooling (0= unbearable, 10=easy to tolerate).

The most common side effect of scalp cooling is a headache. Of every 100 patients who receive scalp cooling, 7 are bothered by moderate or severe headaches and 93 do not have headaches or only minimal headaches. This headache can usually be resolved with paracetamol. Of every 100 patients who start using scalp cooling, 5 patients stop because they find it too difficult; the other 95 patients continue with it.

Temperature during scalp cooling

Under normal circumstances, the scalp skin is around 32 degrees Celsius. With scalp cooling, the temperature of the scalp skin decreases to around 15 to 25 degrees. The decrease in the scalp skin temperature differs per person and depends on the amount of hair. Freezing of the scalp is never reported with the use of cooling machines, although it has been reported with the use of cool caps out of the freezer.

During scalp cooling, it is important that the cool cap be fitted to the scalp as well as possible. In places where the cool cap does not fit well, hair loss is likely to occur.

The overall body temperature does not decrease during scalp cooling. Some patients report that they begin to shiver after wearing the cool cap for a long time.

Reducing the sensation of cold

The seasons can influence the sensation of cold during scalp cooling. It is helpful to put a towel on your neck, to use a blanket or hot water bottle or to drink something warm. You can also wear extra-warm clothing, like a turtleneck for example. In warm weather (when many people do not wear socks), it is recommended that you take socks with you to the hospital.

Cover soft areas of skin that come into contact with the cool cap with gauze pads (the forehead or the tops of the ears, for example).