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Hair Dye Allergies and Hair Loss

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 23 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Hair Dye Hair Colour Hair Loss Ppd

Allergies are known to be a common factor in hair loss. Sometimes they can cause follicles to start shedding even without causing pain. Once you've identified that an allergy is the problem, the next step is to find out what's causing it. Diet, Pollution and Medication are common triggers, but sometimes the problem is caused by something you may have thought was a friend – your hair dye.

Identifying a Hair Dye Allergy

Hair dye allergies can cause hair loss in two ways. First, they can irritate the follicles on the scalp, causing them to shed hair more quickly. Second, they can cause severe itching, leading to scratching which damages follicles and can break hair off at the root. Even if you try to resist scratching you may do it in your sleep.

Because both these forms of hair loss can occur as a result of other conditions, they're not obvious indicators of a hair dye allergy. The distinctive symptoms to look out for include itching or pain on the ears and eyelids. The skin around your eyes may swell and you eyes themselves may feel irritable or weep more than usual. If you have long hair, you may experience itching and redness on your neck or shoulders.

Why do Hair Dye Allergies Happen?

There are many different types of hair dye. Some chemicals, however, are present in most of them, and can irritate the skin. This irritation convinces the body it is under attack and triggers an immune response that leads to swelling, pain and/or itching.

The most common problem ingredient in hair dyes is paraphenylenediamine (also known as PPD). This is present in larger quantities in darker permanent hair dyes. When mixed with an oxidiser during the dyeing process it can cause a moderate to severe allergic reaction. Because your immune system learns to think of it as dangerous, this reaction is likely to get worse each time if you dye your hair on an ongoing basis.

PPD allergies can also make your body more sensitive to other types of allergy, including allergies to food and medication. This means that you should always tell your doctor if you have a problem with this type of hair dye. You should also mention it whenever you are offered a local anaesthetic, which may use similar chemicals.

Safer Hair Dyes

Although PPD is the most common trigger of hair dye allergies, several other hair dye ingredients can cause problems. Most people, however, find that they do not experience any hair loss as a result of using henna, and most semi-permanent dyes are safer than permanent ones.

Among the safest kinds of hair dye are metallic dyes, but some people do experience an irritant reaction to them. When using dyes that don't require oxidation it's always a good idea to do a patch test first. Apply a small amount of dye to the skin on your lower arm, leave it in place for 10 minutes, then wash it off with plenty of water. If it doesn't feel sore or itchy, you are probably safe to use that dye on your hair.

Dealing with Hair Dye Allergies

If you suspect that you are suffering from an allergic reaction immediately after applying hair dye, wash it off as quickly as possible, even if the instructions say that this means it won't do its job. Drink one to five pints of water to help flush the toxins out of your system. Camomile tea can help with the detoxification process and can also be used as a rinse to treat your scalp. This should reduce resultant hair loss.

After taking these immediate measures it's important to take special care of your hair. Don't brush or comb it for 24 hours. If you have long hair, tie it up with a loose fastening such as a scrunchie. This will help to support its weight and ease stress on the roots. At night, cover it with a scarf or piece of fabric. This should allow air to pass through so the scalp can breathe, but it will help to stop you scratching.

Unfortunately, hair dyes can sometimes become so problematic that dying the hair is not an option at all. In this case, you will have to learn to live with your natural colour. Remember, it's better to have healthy grey hair than young-looking hair that's falling out.

Your Hair And Swimming

Did you know that swimming can cause damage to your hair? To ensure your hair stays in top condition every time you take a dip, read our article Protecting Your Hair While Swimming.

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