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Wigs and Allergies

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 25 Feb 2020 | comments*Discuss
Wig Allergy Allergic Toupee Skin Hair

If you're losing your hair, wearing a wig or toupée can seem like the obvious solution. Unfortunately, for some people it's not that easy. If you experience soreness and itchy rashes when you try to Wear A Wig, you may be having an allergic reaction. What does this mean? Will you never be able to conceal your hair loss? You'll be glad to hear that there are solutions.

Diagnosing an Allergy

Although we tend to think of all sudden skin reactions as allergies, there are a number of other conditions which can cause problems like this when you wear a wig. It's important to get the diagnosis right in order to treat it effectively.

Often people have bad reactions to wigs when they first wear them because they keep them on too much of the time and don't clean them often enough. This can cause a build-up of stale sweat and lead to infections on the surface of the skin. In this situation, the problem will usually go away after a few days of not wearing the wig or being treated with an antibiotic.

Other people suffer from scalp conditions related to their hair loss. These may not become apparent until the scalp is given less opportunity to breathe. When you wear a wig regularly it's very important to look after your scalp and keep the skin in good condition. If nothing you try seems to help, see a dermatologist for advice.

Allergies are distinctive because, unlike other problems, they will get worse each time you wear the wig, even if you have given your scalp time to recover and get back to normal in between.

Types of Allergy

The types of allergy experienced by people wearing wigs break down into two categories: allergies to the wig itself, and allergies to the skin.

Having an allergy to your own skin may sound strange, but it's actually very common – 1 in 10 people suffer from eczema, which is one form of this. In some cases, it can be the cause of Hair Loss. Skin allergies tend to be worst in places where sweat builds up, such as at the backs of the knees or in the creases of the neck. This means that wearing a wig can trigger skin allergies on the scalp. Simply washing more won't help, as it can dry the skin out and make the symptoms worse.

Some people have allergies to synthetic materials such as nylon and can therefore have a problem with synthetic wigs. If you find yourself getting itchy when you wear nylon clothes or sleep under nylon sheets, a synthetic wig is not for you.

Occasionally, people who use adhesives to fix their wigs in place experience an allergy to these. In this case, switching to a different adhesive may help but will usually only do so temporarily. It's better to choose a different style of wig that fits securely on your head without needing help.

What You Can Do

If you suspect that you may have a skin allergy, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor, who will be able to provide advice. In a severe case, you may be told to treat your skin with a steroid cream, but if the problem is this bad then you will probably need to give up on wearing a wig. In milder cases, moisturising regularly with a hypoallergenic ointment like E45 will help a lot.

Allergic responses to the skin and to synthetic materials can be made worse by diet. Some people find that if they cut out dairy products, chocolate or peanuts, the problem goes away. If you are experimenting you should try abstaining from each food in turn for at least a month to find out if this works for you.

Just because you have problems with one type of wig doesn't mean that you won't be able to wear any. Often people who can't wear synthetic wigs are fine with real hair ones – you may need to spend a bit more, but it will be worth it. Whatever the nature of your allergy, finding a wig which is more breathable will help. You should be able to take the part that sits against your scalp and blow through it so you can feel your breath against a hand held at the other side.

Most people with allergies do eventually manage to find a solution that works for them. Even if you can't, don't despair – people who are allergic to wigs may still be able to find hats or scarves that don't cause them problems.

Which Wig?

To find out more about the types of wigs that are available, read our feature on Synthetic And Real Hair Wigs.

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I’ve been a hair club client for over 15 years without any issues. Hair club says they use real hair and glue and tape are used to secure hair piece. The last 6 months my scalp has dried up and turned red where the adhesives are placed to the scalp.There are blotches of dried skin and is very sore. I’ve asked them if they had changed any of there products ( adhesives,tape etc. ) and they tell me no. What could be causing this issue now after all this time without any issues
Rus - 25-Feb-20 @ 3:06 AM
Hi,I am a 20 yr old Indian girl...I suffer from ezcema and I have a lot of dry skin flakes and wounds on the back of my head due to scratching(it itches a lot since my place has very hot n humid climate). Now the ezcema is spreading all over my head and I am planning to shave my head to give it some air...But since I am college going Nd shaved head for girls is not acceptable in our community,I'm planning to get a wig....What is your opinion..??Will it make my ezcema worse?? Eagerly waiting for your help.
Joz - 12-Apr-17 @ 8:24 PM
Three ideas that might help, and might not have occurred to you: 1). The chemicals in the synthetic fibers - you may have developed an allergy to whatever goes into synthetic hair. I have recenty developed an allergy to my hearing aids!To silocone.So it can be life threatening, think of a breathing tube. That's the bad news. 2).Or not, and it could be the ends are more scratchy than natural human hair.Try you wigs with little hairclips.I like mini teeth clips to pull it off my face and neck. 3).And another idea:What ever the wig was packed in, sprayed with etc. might really be the problem and all you need is to wash your wigs in baby shampoo and get rid of whatever is on rather than in the wig.Be careful what you add to any of that, but syntheic wigs usually do well without any products. I hope this helps.I hated losing my hair and found great comfort and fun with wigs so it sucks to run into another problem.I loathe the idea of just being bald/balding.It's a personal thing.I love hair, everyone's hair.Hopefully something will work out for us.
Cee Cee - 20-Sep-12 @ 5:22 PM
I havegreat hair, but lovewigs, I do have ecsema, but my body is the main breakout, Do they use any hair color in nylon sythetic wigs?
gail - 12-Sep-12 @ 11:08 PM
I have recently developed a reaction to the synthetic wigs I wear due to chemotherapy.I dint wear them unless I am going out and while we were on vacation, I wore one of the wigs I usually wear, for the day.I came back, removed the wig to discover I had broken out badly where the bangs were and the one side that was longer (asymmetrical cut).It looked like I had a bad case of acne.Took awhile to clear up and on another trip a week after that, I tried another synthetic wig (longer version of the other) and the same thing happened.Under my chime was awful acne etc.I am a nurse and also VERY clean.They were well rinsed and I've only experienced this recently with ALL synthetics,what could it be?I've spent a small fortune on my collection of wigs. P.S.The human hair wigs..not my fave as they are much heavier, have not caused this. Any reasons?Any suggestions?Thanks in advance.....
Pinkie - 10-Sep-12 @ 6:36 AM
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