Can You Have an Allergic Reaction to Hair Dyes?

It seems as though that hair colour dye has an ever increasing demand in the market. More and more people are becoming open to the idea of colouring their hair to make a style statement. There is nothing wrong with improving the look of your hair, but that does not give you the license to look past or ignore the various side effects and harms of using generic hair colour dyes. Most of the hair colour dye manufacturers do not take the health and safety of the customers into account when coming up with a formula for their product. This is the reason why many people are suffering from mild to severe health complications caused by the use of hair colour dyes. One of the biggest medical problems that you might experience from the use of these products is an allergic reaction.

The Effect of PPD and Other Harmful Chemicals in Hair Colour Dyes

People who have sensitive skin can suffer from an allergic reaction when a hair colour dye comes into contact with their skin. These people are the most likely to develop a case of an allergic reaction. Users with normal skin can also experience an allergic reaction after applying hair colour dye. There are specific kinds of hair colour dye which are more likely to give you an allergic reaction. These include the permanent hair colour dyes, especially the darker or pitch black variants. The reason for that is because these dyes contain a specific detrimental substance called Paraphenylenediamine or PPD for short. PPD combined with other chemicals such as ammonia, peroxide and resorcinol can cause people to suffer from a horrible allergic reaction. What these chemicals basically do is that they cause cross sensitivity to other chemicals that the body has already been sensitized to.

Get To Know the Symptoms

When people go through a hair dye allergic reaction, they are bound to experience some symptoms in the affected region of the skin. In addition to that, some people are known to suffer from systematic symptoms in other parts of the body despite the fact that those parts were never exposed to the hair dye. In both the cases, the symptoms of allergic reaction to hair dye could range from mild to severe.

In the case of a localized allergic reaction or one where the symptoms are only felt in the affected area, the hair dye could lead to irritation that affects the scalp, hairline, neck region, forehead, ears or even the eyelids. The victims will experience an annoying itch and a tingling sensation in the affected parts of the body. The symptoms could get far worse as there have been documented cases of people suffering from nettlerash, inflamed patches, lesions, flaky red rashes and anaphylaxis.

These are some of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction to a hair dye. There are various other symptoms that can affect different individuals in different ways. The symptoms do not usually take too long to appear. The begin showing within a couple of days from the time you applied the dye to your hair. The bad news is that these symptoms can last for a very long period of time (several days or weeks) depending upon on the severity of the condition and the kind of treatment you are receiving.

Methods of Diagnosis and Testing

When you find out that you are suffering from an allergic reaction to a hair dye, you need to undergo a few tests to determine the exact chemicals in the hair dye that is causing you to experience the symptoms of the allergic reaction. There are two approaches that you can take when it comes to testing for an allergic reaction. You can either conduct a patch test at home if this is the first time that you are going through an allergic reaction or you could opt for a formal patch test in a dermatological clinic.

The patch test done at home is quite simple. All you need to do is take a small amount of the hair dye that you believe could be the cause of the problem and apply it behind your ear, inner elbow or your neck region. Keep the dye on the skin for a minimum of 48 hours. If you can’t notice any changes, then dye is safe for use. This test should be conducted every time you bring home a new dye.

If you take the patch test at a dermatological clinic, then you will be able to identify the individual chemicals which are causing an allergic reaction in your body. This will allow you to avoid all hair dyes that contain the harmful chemicals.


The first thing that you need to do to treat an allergic reaction from a hair colour dye is stop the use of the product completely. You can then use anti-histamine tablets or systematic corticosteroids (be careful about using this product as it can trigger hair loss). Applying over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream for hair dye allergies is also a recommended option. If you are worried about getting another allergic reaction, then simply resort to the use of hypoallergenic dyes.