Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: How Do Cooling Caps Work?

There’s a new option now available to patients undergoing treatment at the Phillips Cancer Center at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. Cooling caps help to prevent hair loss for people receiving chemotherapy.

“It’s a literal cap you wear on your head that circulates a cooling fluid that lowers the temperature of the scalp,” said Laura Trissel, NP, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hematology and Medical Oncology Associates. “By lowering the temperature of the scalp, it decreases the amount of blood flow to the hair follicle and therefore helps that hair follicle from damage that can be caused by chemotherapy and reduces hair loss.”

Cooling caps are an easy, therapeutic addition that patients can choose to add to their treatment plan.

“The cap is applied about an hour before treatment starts, and then they wear it during the duration of chemotherapy and then for a few minutes afterward,” noted Trissel.

While not everyone will lose their hair during treatment, for those that will, it can be difficult.

“It can be a really vulnerable thing to lose your hair during chemotherapy. It’s one of the things that people outwardly really see and for some people, they may just want to preserve their privacy, or feel more like themselves through treatment,” said Trissel

It’s best to talk with your providers about whether cooling caps are a good option for you, based on your personal goals during treatment.

“Cancer treatment can bring all forms of loss. Loss of normal routines and changes in your physical appearance and opting for cooling caps can give patients just one element of control over all the other things they don’t have control over,” noted Trissel.

Cooling caps are made possible thanks to generous donations from the community to the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation. For more information, please visit

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