Jan 24, 2023
My Thoughts on Cryotherapy for Hair
Cryotherapy, sometimes known as cold therapy, for around the last 100 years, was used for medical therapy. The most prominent use of the term referred to the surgical treatment, specifically known as cryosurgery or cryoablation. Cryosurgery is the application of extremely low temperatures to destroy abnormal or diseased tissue and is used most to treat skin conditions such as warts and skin tags.
Cryotherapy, in the more therapeutic realm, is used to relieve muscle pain, sprains and swelling after soft tissue damage or surgery. It has been commonly used to accelerate recovery in athletes post exercise for many years. Many decades ago, this was the ice baths that athletes immersed themselves in after strenuous activities. Today, more technically advanced cryotherapy is administered in short, 2 – 4-minute exposures, to extremely cold temperatures.
Cryotherapy decreases the temperature of tissue surface to minimize hypoxic cell death, edema accumulation, and muscle spasms, all of which ultimately alleviate discomfort and inflammation. It can be a range of treatments from the application of ice packs or immersion in ice baths (generally known as cold therapy), to the use of cold chambers. The modern cryotherapy devices use liquid nitrogen and can rapidly cool the skin surface to minus 200-degree temperatures.
In the last few years, cryotherapy has seen some popularity in treating various hair conditions. Patients undergoing chemotherapy have used cryotherapy to reduce or eliminate the loss of hair commonly associated with chemo. This treatment involves wearing a cap before, during and after the chemotherapy treatment to prevent the toxic chemicals used in chemotherapy from being absorbed by the hair follicles. Recent research has shown this therapy to be up to 70% effective in reducing hair loss from chemo. This can be seen as a wonderful advancement for patients suffering the loss of hair during the painful chemotherapy process.
In very recent news, the term cryotherapy is loosely being used for cold treatments now being applied to healthy hair. These treatments involve application of nutritional substances using electronic wands that cool the hair to temperatures between 5 degrees and 35 degrees above zero. The thought is the cold seals in the nutritional substances while sealing out the harmful chemicals our hair is exposed to on a daily basis. The cold is also thought to benefit the health of the hair follicle by reducing inflammation and possibly stimulating the production of healthier hair.
On a personal basis, as one of many men experiencing the loss of my wonderful head of hair, I would warmly welcome any therapy that is shown to rejuvenate hair growth. Unfortunately, I don’t see the effectiveness in cryotherapy involving regrowth of healthy hair.
This new cold therapy may have temporary results in making hair appear healthier, and/or thicker. However, the research is less than convincing that cryotherapy will have any lasting effect on our hair.
Cryotherapy is definitely a good therapy for people losing their hair due to chemotherapy. Other than this positive, it is probably best left to helping athletes and weekend warriors with the therapeutic effect of reducing inflammation, limiting swelling, and bringing some relief to sore joints. Be Blessed.
Category: Dr. Sterling