Hair Dye Allergic Reaction
In the United States alone, about 5.7 million visits to the doctor’s office are attributed to cosmetic allergies. Hair products are the second most common allergen causing cosmetics induced allergy. About 5% of permanent hair dye users experience adverse physical reactions. Allergic contact dermatitis which essentially involves red, itchy skin at the point of contact is a primary
hair dye allergic reaction
. The symptom is mostly seen on the scalp, neck, ears, face but it can appear in other areas also. Hair dressers experience symptoms on hand as they come in contact with the irritants while styling hair. Hence, it can also be termed an occupational allergen.
Chemicals in fragrances and preservatives are mostly responsible for any sort of cosmetic allergy. A chemical compound found in hair dye or hair color which is particularly responsible for the said allergy is Paraphenylenediamine (PPD).
Why do we get hair dye allergic reaction?
The substance PPD is present in about 66.6% of all commercial hair color. Generally, the hair color pack contains two bottles. One bottle contains PPD based hair color which is colorless and almost white. The other bottle contains hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which is usually the developer or oxidiser. The latter breaks the natural hair pigment melanin and PPD replaces it. PPD reacts with the hydrogen peroxide and undergoes a partial oxidation. This is what gives the color to the hair. The problem is the partial oxidation. This is what sets in the allergic reactions. Fully oxidised PPD does not cause problems.
PPD triggers the auto immune system of the body and causes the production of IgE antibodies. These in turn makes the mast cells in the pharynx, skin and gut release a chemical, namely, histamine. Histamine dilates blood vessels causing inflammation, redness and itching. In extreme cases, the body may show signs of wheezing, sneezing, confusion, difficulty swallowing and vomiting. This is known as anaphylaxis, which is extremely rare.
Symptoms of hair dye allergic reaction
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis as in redness, itching or burning sensation in the affected areas like the scalp, eyelids, hair line skin, beard or neck.
- Any other surface of the body coming in contact with the dye can also show symptoms. The symptoms appear within 6-72 hours of application.
- Development of scaly and dry skin around ears, face and neck.
- Dark circles under eyes and swelling around the eyes.
- Contact urticaria where red itchy welts appear on the surface of the skin with pre defined edges is also common. Blisters develop on the skin surface with liquid oozing out them.
Allergy sensitivity test
- Allergists generally use skin prick test and patch test to confirm the presence of allergies. Skin prick test allows the allergen to seep in to the skin through minute pricks made on the skin. The appearance of any discussed symptoms affirms the presence of the allergy.
- In a patch test, a patch having a 2% PPD solution is stuck to the back of the individual. It is checked in 48 hours. Any reactions on the skin would confirm the allergy.
Treatment of hair dye induced allergic reaction
- In acute case of PPD allergy, the hair needs to be washed with a hypoallergenic formula to remove the excess dye.
- The partially oxidized PPD needs to be attended to in order to relieve the symptoms. A 2% Hydrogen Peroxide solution (H2O2) or compresses of potassium permanganate in a 1:5000 proportion needs to be applied to completely oxidize the PPD.
- The dry, tight, itchy scalp can be treated with a home based remedy of olive oil and lime.
- Atopical and Corticosteroid creams can be applied to the affected body parts.
- Corticosteroids and antihistamines taken orally also brings relief from symptoms.
- Staying away from permanent hair dyes is the best solution. Vegetable based hair dyes can be tried but they are temporary in nature.