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The damage that chemotherapy causes to the hair follicle can be alleviated by using scalp cooling.

It works by reducing the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees immediately before, during,and after the administration of chemotherapy. This in turn reduces the blood flow to hair follicles,which may prevent or minimize hair loss.

Cooling causes blood-vessel vasoconstriction, which has been shown to reduce blood flow in the scalp to 20% to 40% of the normal rate, resulting in less chemotherapeutic drug being delivered to the hair follicles.

The rate of drug diffusion across a plasma membrane is reduced by cooling, and thus lower effective drug doses may enter the cells.

Cell division is metabolism-driven-this process is decelerated by cooling.

Also, a decrease in the metabolic activity of the cells in the hair follicle could cause a more general reduction in the cytotoxicity of chemotherapy drugs localized to the scalp.

Follicle Diagram Image

Chemotherapy works by targeting all rapidly dividing cells in the body. Hair is the second fastest dividing cell and this is the reason why many chemotherapy drugs cause alopecia.

Paxman The Science