Do You Have a Hair Dye Allergy?
People may develop allergic reactions to almost anything from food to cosmetics. For instance, there are many people, especially women, who are allergic to hair dye. In this case, the reaction is most likely caused by certain chemicals contained in the product. Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and para-toluenediamine (PTD) are the chemicals that are often to blame, when it comes to hair dye allergy.
PPD is a common ingredient in commercial hair dyes. It is often mixed with another chemical called peroxide, which helps to alter the hair color. When it comes into contact with the skin, it may cause an allergic reaction.
You can find para-phenylenediamine under many different names, including PPDA, Phenylenediamine base, or 1,4-Benzenediamine.
Para-toluenediamine is usually tolerated better, but some people do react to this chemical as well.
People allergic to hair dye usually develop the symptoms of contact dermatitis, but more severe reactions are also possible. It is important to know the first signs of an allergic reaction, so that you will be able to get the necessary treatment, in case of an emergency.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hair Dye Allergy?
If you have an allergy to hair dye, exposing your skin to this product may lead to the development of contact dermatitis. Hair dye often causes reaction classified as type 4 hypersensitivity.
The symptoms usually include inflammation and redness of the skin on the scalp, neck, ears, and beard. You may also experience itching of the eyes, and your eyelids may become swollen.
The symptoms tend to occur within several hours or more after the exposure. They may last for several days or more, depending on how severe the reaction is.
Some people also develop hives – red, itchy, and raised patches of the skin – that may affect the whole body.
Respiratory problems like sneezing and wheezing are also possible. You may also have difficulty swallowing.
Severe reactions to hair dye are rare, but type 1 hypersensitivity to this trigger leading to anaphylaxis can also affect some people.
The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include hives, swelling of the face, mouth, and throat, difficulty breathing, breath shortness, low blood pressure, and fainting. These symptoms can be life-threatening, if not treated immediately.
How Is the Condition Diagnosed?
In case of an allergy to PPD, it may be difficult to identify the reaction. The first time you use an allergenic product, your body becomes sensitized to the allergen. Allergy symptoms usually occur after repeated exposure. Many people experience the reaction after the second time of using hair dye.
If you expose your skin to the allergen frequently, the symptoms may get significantly worse.
What Is Hair Dye Intolerance?
According to experts, not all the reactions to hair dye are caused by allergies. Some people may experience non-allergic contact dermatitis or other skin reactions.
There are skin types that are more sensitive to various chemicals, including PPD. In this case, using a hair dye may cause your skin to become dry, cracked, or stretched. The skin on the scalp may become tightened and feel as if it was burning.
Non-allergic reactions are more likely to occur, if you tend to switch hair dye brands with different formulations.
The symptoms usually develop within 48 hours after the application of hair dye. However, some people who are sensitive to PPD or other chemicals may also experience immediate reactions.
How Do You Treat a Reaction to Hair Dye?
If you notice abnormal symptoms after dying your hair, try to remove the excess dye by washing your hair immediately. Gently wash it using a mild soap for a few times and rinse properly with clean water.
Rinsing the hair with a 2 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide may help to reduce the symptoms. Hydrogen peroxide is supposed to oxidize the PPD completely and stop the reaction. However, if it makes your symptoms worse, stop using the solution.
The symptoms like dryness or itchiness of the skin can also be relieved by gentle moisturizers. Avoid creams and lotions containing alcohol or skin-irritating chemicals. It’s better to use natural creams or wet compresses with olive oil and lime.
To reduce allergy-induced irritation, inflammation, and swelling, specialists recommend using steroid creams. If your symptoms are not too severe, you can try an over-the-counter steroid cream, However, in case of a more serious allergic reaction, you should visit your doctor who may prescribe a more effective steroid cream or an oral steroid therapy.
What Are the Alternatives to Allergenic Hair Dyes?
If you are allergic or sensitive to PPD or other chemicals in hair dye, there are various allergen-free alternatives available on the market. However, they may have limited color options.
Some of these alternatives contain hydroxyethyl-p-phenylenediamine sulfate (HPPS) instead of PPD. These hair dyes work by getting deep into the hair and changing its color.
However, some allergen-free hair dyes can only work for certain ranges of hair color, so they may not be suitable for you.
If you want to avoid PPD, henna is also a good option. Henna is a natural hair dye that is made from a flowering plant found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and Asia.
Depending on the additional ingredients and the preparation method, the colors of henna dyes may vary from orange-like to red-brown.
Henna is usually safe for people with allergies, but some people may react to this product as well. Make sure to perform a patch test before applying a henna-dye on your hair.
If you decide to try henna dye, make sure the product you choose is a true henna. Some henna-containing hair dyes, that are marketed as henna, may contain PPD or its derivatives, which may cause a reaction in an allergic person. Check the ingredients label before using a henna dye.
Semi-permanent or lead-based hair dyes are PPD-free, so some people with a PPD allergy may tolerate these products. However, these are not suitable for everyone. If you have an allergy or sensitive skin, make sure to consult with your dermatologist or allergist before using any hair dye.
How to Avoid a Reaction to Hair Dye?
To avoid a reaction to hair dyes, you may need to take some precautions when using such products.
First of all, you should always follow the instruction for each type or brand of hair dye you use. Incorrect usage may lead to adverse reactions.
Remember that leaving the hair dye on the scalp for longer that recommended may lead to irritated skin. This is a non-allergic reaction caused by hair dye chemicals, and it affect most people.
It is also important to wear gloves when using hair dye.
After applying a hair dye, make sure to wash and rinse your hair and scalp properly to get rid of any traces of the dye on your skin. Otherwise, you may develop skin irritation.
Patch tests can help to identify an allergy to a particular substance. These tests are performed by a doctor. These tests involve exposing a small area of the skin to a tiny amount of allergen extract. They are usually done on the upper back.
If you are using an oxidizing hair dye, you can perform a similar patch test at home. Experts recommend placing a little bit of hair dye mixture on the skin behind the ear. Remember to follow all the instructions provided on the product packaging.
If you develop irritation or any other skin reaction, you should avoid exposing your scalp to this product.
If you use hair dye on a regular basis, you can also go to a special allergy clinic to get tested for chemical you are allergic or sensitive to. You will get the list of all potential allergy triggers you may need to avoid. Make sure to check your hair dye for these ingredients.
The Bottom Line
If you have an allergy or sensitive skin, try to avoid any irritating chemicals. You may also need to get tested for potential allergy triggers found in hair dye. Don’t use products that contain ingredients you are allergic or intolerant to.