Hair Dye Allergies

Hair Dye Allergies – Introduction

About 5% of permanent hair dye users develop an allergy, mostly in the form of an allergic contact dermatitis with a redness and itch in the head area. A systemic reaction with an involvement of the whole body skin and other organs, although rare, is possible in severe cases (1).  Understandably dermatitis of the hands affects many hair stylists who are making bare skin contact with these dyes. (2). The main cause implicated in hair dye allergies, whether on the scalp, face, neck, back or hands, is a substance commonly known as PPD. The most common symptoms is an itchy scalp or burning of the scalp within a short period of time after applying the dye. Sometimes symptoms may develop days or weeks after the hair dye treatment.

PPD (4-ParaPhenyleneDiamine, C6H8N2)

PPD is widely available on the market since 1909, and it is still used in over 2 out of 3 of permanent hair dyes (2007). Commercial hair dye products typically come in two bottles –  the one with PPD-based dye (non-oxidized and thus colorless) and the other with oxidizer or developer, usually hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). In the hair dying process, the peroxide is initially used to break down the natural skin and hair pigment known as melanin. Then the PPD is used to replace the hair color. When PPD reacts with peroxide, it becomes partly oxidized and colored – it is this form that it may cause an allergy. Fully oxidized PPD does not cause an allergy, so PPD sensitive persons can safely wear fur coats dyed with PPD (3). PPD can be also found in some dark colored cosmetics and temporary tattoos. In France, Germany and Sweden, PPD was banned as a hair dye because it is believed to have serious toxic effects on and in the human body (4).

Alternative names for PPD: PPDA, Orsin, Rodol, Ursol.

PPD and PPD Related Substances

Other hair dye substances that can cause an allergic reaction includes 6-hydroxyindole, Isatin, p-Methylaminophenol (5). Substances related to PPD that may also cause an allergic reaction include :

  • Azo groups (chemically: R-N=N-R) used in temporary hair dyes, ballpoint pen inks, gasoline and as coloring agent in foods and medication.
  • Local anesthetics benzocaine and procaine.
  • Sulfa drugs.
  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) in sun-protective creams.
  • Para-aminosalicylic acid used for treatment of tuberculosis.

Hair dyes producers may use misleading terms and users are always advised to discuss this terminology with a hair styling professional or even a doctor in the event of an allergy. “Hypoallergenic” hair dyes are less likely to cause allergies but an allergic reaction is still possible. “Fragrances free or unscented” only means the product has no odor but this does not necessarily mean that it is devoid of an allergenic properties. A hair dye that is completely “natural” can still trigger an allergic reaction in a sensitive person – it is a matter of individual susceptibility even though majority of the population may not experience any reaction.

Types of Allergies Caused by Hair Dyes

Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is an immunologic skin reaction occurring in a genetically predisposed individual. The risk of becoming sensitive rises with coloring frequency (6). At least 10 days after initial use of PPD is required for an individual to develop a specific sensitivity. On the second and subsequent exposures to PPD, an allergic reaction can develop within 6 to 72 hours (delayed hypersensitivity). In this process, the PPD molecules are targeted by certain immune cells (macrophages and lymphocytes) causing the formation of skin granulomas, redness or vesicles. Affected areas – the eyelids, ears, skin at hair line, beard or neck – are usually well demarcated but the irritation may extend beyond the site of contact with a hair dye. Symptoms are itching or burning feeling.

Contact urticaria can develop in minutes to about 1 hour after exposure to a hair dye. PPD triggers the production of IgE antibodies and the release of histamine causing dilatation of the blood vessels in the skin and also makes these vessels more porous. The increased blood flow along with plasma seeping into the tissue spaces of the skin resulting in skin redness and edema (swelling of the eyelids) . Contact Urticaria Syndrome (CUS) with red patches over the entire body, and bronchial asthma with wheezing, sneezing, difficult swallowing and vomiting can appear.

Anaphylactic shock is an extremely rare but life threatening condition. Facial swelling, gasping for air, drop blood pressure fall and even death can occur if  immediate medical attention is not forthcoming. In an apparent death from anaphylaxis, it was reported that a 38 year mother died in the United Kingdom in August 2000 shortly after changing her hair dye. She was an asthmatic and firstly developed an allergy with a scalp itch after using her old hair dye for some months. After changing the dye, anaphylactic shock developed and she died within an hour after applying the dye. (7, 8)

Allergy Sensitivity Test

Hair dye users can apply a solution (dye and developer mixed together) behind the ear or on the inner side of the elbow for 48 to 72 hours. If there is no irritation (itching / burning) or rash within this time then test is considered negative and the hair dye may be considered as safe to use. If a rash of a certain size (according to a test scale) develops, this is a sign of allergy.

Dermatologists will use a patch test (9). A patch with a 2% PPD in petrolatum is applied to the upper back and examined after 48 hours. Negative reactions show no skin changes; a positive reaction can vary from a mild rash to prominent blistering or even ulcerations. In the “ready-to-use” T.R.U.E. patch test, 24 possible allergenic substances, including PPD, are tested at once (10).

Treatment of PPD Allergy

In an acute severe hair dye dermatitis caused by PPD, the hair and scalp has to be washed thoroughly with a mild shampoo. A solution of 2% hydrogen peroxide or a compresses with potassium permanganate in a 1:5000 dilution is applied to completely oxidize the PPD. To soften the crust, a wet dressing of olive oil and lime may be used. Always speak to your doctor or dermatologist before undertaking these measures.

The patch test has to be conducted afterwards to determine if an allergy to PPD exists, or there is only a non-allergic contact dermatitis present. In the case of a proven allergic dermatitis, a corticosteroid cream which reduces the allergic immune response and therefore inflammation can be applied.

Currently, there are no permanent hair dyes that can be safely used by PPD allergic individuals (2007).

Hair Dye Allergies Related Images

  • Allergic contact dermatitis of the neck, caused by hair dye
  • Dermatitis behind the ear
  • Allergic contact dermatitis of the hand

Related Articles:

  • Types of Skin Rash – Terms Explained
  • Scalp Itch – Pictures
  • Facial Itch – Pictures
  • Itchy Eyelids
  • Itchy Neck
  • Causes of Itchy Skin
  • Itchy Skin – Diagnosis and Treatment

References:

1. Hair dye allergy symptoms (webmd.com)
2. Allergy in hair-dressers (occderm.asn.au)
3. PPD in fur coats (dermnetnz.org)
4. PPD banned (news-medical.net)
5. Hair dye subsatnces causing allergy (ec.europa.eu)
6. Allergic contact dermatitis (emedicine.com)
7. Anaphylactic shock (bbc.co.uk)
8. Skin patch test (dermnetnz.org)

About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer
  • diane

    To All

    The medical profession need to be reading this site. They don’t seem to have any idea what is happening out there.

    When it happened to me, I also went to my GP, he had no idea.

    I solved my own problem.

    Cheers
    Diane

  • lendsey

    I’m only 18 and 5 weeks back I dyed my hair black. Everything was good after I colored and rinsed my hair. But a few hours later my scalp started to burn and I thought that rinsing would calm it but it did nothing. Instead that same week my ears started to itch and the back of my neck to. The week after my face swelled up and had a terrible breakout that got to my neck as well.
    My hair would get stuck on my ears and my eyelids swelled up bad, Along with my lips. I couldn’t even look at myself without being disgusted, because it got to my legs and my entire body itched 24/7.But the worst part was during my sleep when I felt my throat close up for a moment, I was in panic .And to be quite honest those were probably the worst weeks of my life. Now I’m too scared of using any hair color, and it sucks because I loved being creative with my hair=[
    I probably scared everyone around me because no one wants to dye their hair now.

  • Jan Modric

    To lendsey.

    This what you’ve reported was quite strong allergic reaction probably caused by PPD in the hair dye. Subsequent reactions are usually at least as strong as the first one. If reaction like this one happens during using some other cosmetic product you should visit allergologist to find out what exactly you are allergic to.

  • Jan Modric

    To redhead.

    We only discuss about symptoms and treatment of hair dy allergies here and we do not deal with hair dying itself.

  • hilary

    i recently had bad reaction to hair dye but its not over all my scalp and at my next visit my hairdresser only dyed top of head along parting where i hadnt had reaction.This was ok.I had used a hydrocortisone cream which had been prescribed for itchy scalp on area which had bad reaction-burning,weeping.so I dont really know what i am allergic to.

  • Jan Modric

    To hilary.

    Allergic reaction only occurs when hair dye touches your skin. To be sure you’d need to have a skin test but it’s usually PPD that causes allergy.

  • harley

    i had a black henna tattoo a few years agao and i got a third degree burn on my arm in the whole shap of the tattoo but nowhere else, it was published in the british medical journal for being one of the worst burns caused my a non flammable experience, i went for tests on my back and it turns out i am allergic to ppd (which was in the tattoo) and something else beggingin with o – ocd maybe??
    but anyway i want to dye a little bit of hair near the side of m face purple, if it doesnt touch the roots of my head will it be ok or will i have a reaction?

  • Jan Modric

    To harley.

    Allergic reaction occurs when a hair (any part of it), colored with a dye you are allergic to, touches the surface of the skin. So not only when a dye comes into a hair follicle.

  • harley

    ok okay thankyou :'(
    guess ill try and find some non ppd bright hair dye! :(

  • lendsey

    does this mean i could never dye my hair again?

  • Jan Modric

    Lendsey,
    it was probably PPD in the hair dye that triggered allergic reactin you had. In this case you won’t be able to safely use any hair dye containing PPD.

  • BERNADETTE

    HI THERE,I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW I HAVE HAD MY FIRST REACTINFOUR YEARS AGO, BUT LET ME TELL YOU THING DO CHANGE I HAD A TEMP. TATTOO MADE OF HENNA, IT WAS WORSE THEN HAIR DYE SHOTS ,PILLS SO AS MUCH AS I WOULD LOVE SOME COLOR BACK. I AM STILL TO SCARED,

  • archie7

    HI ALL , I HAVE BEEN DYED MY HAIR FOR 35 YEARS THE LAST 8 YEARS BEEN A REDISH COLOUR AND THEN LAST SEPTEMBER I DECIDE TO GO DARK BROWN FIRST EXPOSUE O K HEAD A LITTLT ITCHY, SECOND EXPOSURE STARTED GETTING ITCHY HANDS AND FEET 3/4 DAYS LATER MY SCALP AND HEAD STARTED TO SWELL WENT TO THE HOSPITAL HAD TREATMENT STEROIDS ANTIHISTAMINES ADREALINE AND A STAY IN OVER NIGHT , HAD PATCH TEST DONE BUT PROVED TO BE NEGATIVE TO PPD ALTOUGH THEY HAVE TOLD ME NOT TO DYE MY HAIR AGAIN BECAUSE THERE ARE OTHER RELATED CHEMICALS THAT CAN CAUSE A REACTION, I AM GOING BACK FOR MORE TESTING SOON SO HOPEFULLY THEY MIGHT TEST ME AGIN FOR PPD AND LEAVE IT ON FOR A LONGER PEROID AND NOT 20 MINUTES IF YOU READ THE HAIR DYE INSTRUCTION THEY RECOMMEND THAT ITS LEFT ON FOR 72 HOURS, AND I AM TO SCARED TO DO IT MYSELF BECAUSE IT WAS VERY FRIGHTENING EXPERIENCE. I HAVE NOT EVEN ATTEMPTED TO DYE MY HAIR AGAIN SO I AM TOTALLY GREY NOW HOWEVER I FEEL QUIET LIBERATED WITH GREY HAIR . HAS ANY BODY ELSE HAD A NEGATIVE REACTION TO PPD

  • Eve Coles

    I Have been colouring my hair for many years,but had a recent allergic reaction,severe itching,hives,and severe swelling of the face and eyes and head.twice to the emergency ,as my throat started swelling and had trouble breathing.On Steroids and reactin for 10 days,now have to carry an Epiphen .A very frightening experience.

  • abe1234

    I have been using hair color for over 25 years. As I was allergic to the PPD so I was using a *PPD-free product [edited]. My hair started redish and so horrible looking. So as a family we decided that I should not risk my life and health. My face was full of black discoloration. I stopped using now for 5 years. Totally white but my wife and children did not mind and I accepted it fully. I need to evaluate is somone out there I am trying to please or my own health. If the checmiacals in the haird die is causing damages to the body why take a chance. My sister been to the hospital seeral times and she stopped it also. It is my peronal beleife that we need to place our health first before our looks. I have a friend who had a major heart surgery and after that he could not dye the hair as doctors opposed to it. My friend refused to see anyone out of the family becase his hair started to show white hair… Just evaluate for yourself and see what are your priorities. thanks
    Abe

  • tablesedge

    After using salon permanent dyes for over 30 years, had anaphyactic reaction for the first time in July. Cannot stand the look of my all gray hair coming in. Please send me emails if any non ppd products work.

    Thanks

  • Jan Modric

    Tablesedge,

    as a health site, we do not provide info about hair dyes from the cosmetic point of view.

  • hilary

    since last comment have seen dermatologist and was tested for ppd and dozens of other chems.was not allergic to anything.she said i have psoriasis and said was ok to have hair coloured.my hairdresser was very careful and didnt put dye on any area that had reacted before.but i had a reaction on a diff.part of my scalp.what is it?

  • http://goinggraylookinggreat.com Silverlake

    This is a very good article! Just to say to Hilary I have psoriasis and have the same problems, there are many other potential irrtants in hair dye and our skin can need a bit more TLC! Anyone else who hates to see the gray hair growing in might want to check out the website Going Gray Looking Great, mostly written by contributors who had to, or chose to give up hair dye. There is advice about fashion and cosmetics and futher information about coping with hair dye allergy from the cosmetic point of view.

  • Roger

    I see the thread of frustration in not being able to see lists of names of products that work without PPD. Having suffered from ppd alergies for years, a couple of years ago I found lots of info on alternative dyes to PPD- just google them. Henna is not a company name so it should not be verbotten to mention? I have used it now for 3 plus years- no itching, beautiful very DARK hair – its a pain, its messy, it doesn’t last much more than a week and a half, but it works and is a better result than the PPD stuff by far- great texture thickness and body of hair afterwards. Several products out there with henna just google away, you will find some recommended brands.

  • Jan Modric

    Roger,

    henna is abused grossly by many hair dye producers. They often mix it with additional colors and other substances that can be harmful. You can find many complaints about henna online.

  • diane

    Roger, thank you, yes it is messy to apply but mine will last for 4-5 weeks, great full bodied hair is a plus.
    Diane

  • angela

    I’ve just started to get reactions to hair dye test patches. I’ve tried a few box dyes and my hairdresser did a test behind my ear which came up in a big red swollen lump. My hairdresser said foils would be ok because the dye doesn’t touch the scalp or enter the bloodstream. Is this right? I’m a bit scared to try it.

  • Jan Modric

    Angela,

    allergic reaction to a hair dye may not occur only on the scalp but anywhere on the skin (face, neck, hands – when you touch the hair). Hair dye may also be inhaled and may trigger an asthma-like spasm of bronchi with difficulty breathing.

  • angela

    that explains why the inside of my ear felt like it was swelling. The last few times i’ve dyed my hair i’ve had a headache afterwards and a funny creeping sensation all over my body which lasted a couple of days so i assumed at the time it couldn’t possibly be the dye. It’s got worse each time i’ve used dye and i don’t want to end up experiencing some of the things other people here have posted so will stick to mascaraing my greys! Thanks for the reply

  • ukali

    What’s the worst that could happen with gray hair? In this society? How about job loss/job rejection? Single or married, male or female, the cost of raising a family is the same.

    Vanity and/or comfort aside, there are social, competitive and therefore financial rammifications to gray hair.

    Gray haired women are seldom described or evaluated as “Disguished” or “Sanguine” in the work force. Instead and increasingly, the overall dadaistic connotation turns to “doddering”, or “inept”, or “one foot out the door”.

    After 15 years of covering gray with the same product, I dyed my hair this past mother’s day. From which, I experienced an unprecedented allergic reaction. Over 5 weeks I had to take 3 rounds of Predizone (causing stomach distention, and overall bloating). I additionally had to use Triamcinolone cream, 20mgs of Zyrtec(24hr), and Benadryl if needed, just to cope. I’ve since not dyed my hair, but desperate, I decided to try an alternative. So 3 days ago I patch tested 2 drops of Henna behind my ear. As a result, I’ve had to use Zyrtec and Triamcinolone to arrest the itching and mild weeping. If there are no further or healthy alternatives (not wigs) available; it sadly may be easier to research and develop a new “anti-body” or “coloring agent”, than to change society’s value of age.

  • Christie

    I also have developed a PPD allergy. I am a 23 yr old hairstylist and have dyed my hair since the age of 16 with no problems or reactions at all. I usually get highlights and a brown lowlight color in between the foils. The last few times I have gotten my hair done I have noticed the burning and itching while the product was on my scalp getting worse with each application. Well, the last time that I had my hair done about a month ago my scalp was burning worse than any other time! When my hairdresser rinsed me …. my scalp felt “burnt”. Her massaging was more like torturing! Well needless to say I didn’t want a blowout or anything…just wanted to get out and see the damage. I ran my fingers through my hair and my scalp was lumpy..it was like waves in my scalp. I don’t know if i reacted to the bleach or color. It seemed to me that my scalp was swelled up where the bleach foils had been located. Well after a day the “waves” on my scalp had gone down..but that night my family started noticing the bridge of my nose between my eyes to be a little swollen. I guess the swelling had traveled down to my face…I was starting to look like a lion. I WAS HORRIFIED and thought I was gonna balloon up. Well that night I don’t know if it was stress related or not but I felt pressure in my throat like it was swelling. I took a Bennadryll and finally got some sleep. I woke up the next morning and the swelling had gotten a little worse. I also experienced nausea and weakness. I have also developed an irritating eye twitch in my right eye and sensitivity to light. Total eye opener!! Something that I worked with everyday has become my worst enemy!! I really don’t know what my next move will be on my hair issue. My roots will be getting bad in a few more weeks. I thought about dying it one last time to my natural color, but am scared of worse effects than before. Any ideas?

  • Jan Modric

    Christie,

    first, you probably want to know what exactly you are allergic to. This is important, since the culprit substance may be in other cosmetic products.

    I would not risk an anaphylactic shock from any hair dye.

  • Gail

    I also had a horrible reaction with a hair dye swelling in face eyes closed like a blowfish . have rash and whelps on neck and back and left side of chest been on steroids and zantac and benadrl since sunday morning thought it was going down but awoke this morning and swelled again not looking for a dye that will work just answers to how long the swelling and rash will last I will not ever ever put myself through this again missings work the horror of what i looked like I WILL BE PROUD TO AGE NATURAL: thanks just tell me how long the swelling last PLEASE

  • Jan Modric

    Gail,

    allergic reaction to hair dyes may last from several hours to several days; it depends on severity of reaction and this differ from case to case. You can try antihistamine pills like Benadryl (might cause sleepiness). If you need quick recovery or if difficulty breathing appears…just go to the doctor to get some effective antihistamines or corticosteroids.

  • Christie

    Thanks Jan…I would like to ask a few questions. How would I find out if I am allergic to the dye or if it’s the bleach? Where do I go to have one of these PPD tests done? I went to my dermatologist and he told me that all I can do is avoid the dye and that he is seeing more and more people reacting to the Clairol box dyes in his office with swollen heads and faces. Sheesh! Should I just do these patch tests myself or what? Thanks

  • Jan Modric

    Christie,

    it’s allergologistt who does this tests, and you can expect to be patch tests or prick tests. Take a bottle of problematic hair dye with you, so doctor can see all ingredients; mention him what dermatologists said, etc.

    Do not test by yourself, since you can’t be sure what exact substances a sample you’re trying contains…

  • t

    Just had hair dyed black yesterday, my face is red, ears head feels swollen especially nick is thick hard red, i purchased some of the things other folks said help this is very scary..
    washington , dc

  • Chris

    Jan, at 57 yo, after years of begging, I finally let my daughter dye my dark blonde/light brown hair red. Three or four days later, I begin sprouting hives on my left arm, then my jaw, now my right arm, and possibly my legs, too. My daughter said it couldn’t be an allergic reation because of the delay, that it would have happened immediately. It’s been nearly a week now and the hives just won’t stop! Could it be the hair dye? There’s been nothing else new in my life. By the way, years ago I had a bad reaction to a sulfa drug; I saw sulfa referred to in some posts. Thanks.

  • Jan Modric

    Chris, there is immediate type of allergic reaction, occurring within an hour, and delayed type occurring within 72 hours after contact with an allergen.

    To be sure, I recommend you to visit an allergologist to have a test, (take that hair dye with you, so a doctor can see ingredients).

  • laura

    I am only 22 i have been dying my hair since i was 12.At 17 i dyed my hair dark brown AND HAD A REALLY BAD ALLERGIC REACTION.THEN A COUPLE MONTHS LATER I GOT IT DONE AT THE HAIRDRESSERS SAME THING HAPPENED.i DYE MY HAIR NOW ONCE A YEAR AND PUT UP WITH IT.mY WHOLE FACE GOES SWOLWN I GET BIG SCABBY BLISTERS ANYWHERE THE HAIR DYE HAS TOUCHED ALL THROUGH MY HEAS ALL OVER MY FACE AND EARS AND I LOOK LIKE A MONSTER.IT IS HORRIBLE BUT IT HAS TO BE DONE..i ALSO GOT MY EYE LASHES TINTED AND I ENDED UP IN HOSPITAL BECAUSE I GOT A SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION

  • Divya Jetley

    Hi,
    I just got my hair coloured 2 days ack ..today my head is itiching and my forehead has become swollen ..can you please tell me what should i do to get rid of the itching and swelling ..further can this become even more worse…

  • Jan Modric

    Divya Jetly,

    Antihistamine pills, like Benadryl, may give you some relief. Yes, it may become worse – in this case, you should see a doctor to give you appropriate anti-allergic drugs.

  • divya

    Hi,
    I consulted my doctor and he has given me anti allergy medicine steroids i started using them today but i can see tht my forehead swelling has increase..is it normal? if yes in how many days can i expect the swelling to reduce …a range would be enough ..thanks a lot in advance ..

  • Jan Modric

    Divya,

    without medications, swelling may continue to increase even 3rd or 4th day and last for a week or more.

    With steroids, swelling should stop to increase in…well, less than without steroids, and this depend on the type and dose of steroids you’ve got. If in next 24 hours symptoms won’t lessen, you may consult your doctor by phone…but DO NOT increase the dose without doctor’s approval.

  • beautysmistress

    I colored hair 3 weeks ago. Got the scabs and weeping sores that lasted about 5 days. After 3 days forehead started to swell. Another day and whole face was swollen. got steroids from doc. that helped with swelling. finished steroid pack.. then itching started all over. started 2nd steroid pack. it helped. Now that pack is done and itching is still all over. Worse in the evening..
    Taking OTC meds now zantac and zytec.. both are supposed to block antihistamines.. good luck to all.

  • sandmarl

    THANK YOU all so much. I had a similar experience with the predinisone and the sores and the weeping. Later i had shedding hair and scalp. Now, I am thinking that I may just have to go grey. I am thinking my vanity may not be worth it,
    thanks for sharing your stories.

  • Rach76

    Hi All,

    I am 33 and have been getting my hair professionally foiled with chocolate colour for about 13 years without any incident.
    (just a half head of them at a time)
    I started going gray at 26 so I decided to colour my naturally black hair brown with a full head of semi permanent foils-no bad reaction.

    I then decided to try colouring my hair myself with a semi permanent colour when it started to grow out to tide my over until my next appointment and had no issues there.
    I did it again with a different brand of semi permanent colour some weeks later and left the colour on too long- I wish I could go back in time and undo that choice so bad!

    I had terrible itching and large flakes coming off my scalp, but unlike most others (which is partly what has be so curious) is I didn’t get a swollen face, eyes or ears etc but a reaction more like Karen2.
    My cheeks went red and the itching subsided, and my hairdresser moved on so I went to a different salon which did a permanent brown all over the roots only which had since grown out and was showing black and gray.

    I felt my face go red and burn nearly straight away and every single day since then, I have had red, swollen, puffy cheeks for 4 MONTHS and cannot get rid of this.
    Needless to say I have not coloured my hair since and it is driving me crazy on what to do with it although the scalp irritation is long since over but the cheeks resemble a chipmunk every day particularly upon waking (although for years I’ve slept on a silk pillowcase to reduce irritation to skin and hair).
    I have had cortisone creams, which then mimicked rosacea, antibiotics, grapefruit seed extract, apple cider vinegar, rosex cream, you name it, and I cannot get these red blotchy cheeks to go back to normal after 4 months.
    What is going on here?
    It is the only part of the body that will not return to normal!

    I have been avoiding the sun over this time and today while out I was in the sun for no more than 10 mins and 6 hours later after applying ice to my cheeks they are still red and swollen and the skin feels thickened- I have not changed any products etc if anything I am using even gentler basic products than before I coloured my own hair.

    We are approaching summer here in Australia and I am really concerned about the frequent damage to the cheeks.
    Has anyone else had something like this before and can anyone shed any light on a timeline for how much longer this will go on for?
    Do I have to cut my medium length hair off or something and does this technically make me allergic to PPD even though the scalp was only itchy for about a month and not since?
    I have seen a dermatologist who didn’t really have a clue and waiting for my appointment to come up with another but would love some feedback in the meantime.

    Appreciate any help.
    Thanks,

    Rachel.

  • Jan Modric

    Rachel,

    few possibilities:

    1. You’ve developed crossed reactivity with certain substance in your pillowcase. You can try some other pillowcase and see what happens.

    2. Hair dye remains on the pillowcase and constantly triggers allergic reaction in your cheeks. You can wear a cap at night to prevent hair touching your cheeks (but also change the pillowcase).

    3. Hair dye causes photosensitivity.
    4. Photosensitivity to certain other skin product or medication (even if taken oraly), or food, or food additive has been triggered by hair dye allergy…
    5. Maybe even steroid creams irritate you…
    6. Physical or cholinergic urticaria, triggered by sunlight or heat or physical irritation. In this case, sitting close to a heat sourse could trigger symptoms.

  • Rach76

    Thanks for replying so quickly Jan.
    I have washed all the bedding in hot water and the pillowslip is new.
    Yes, I have noticed that the face now does not like heat- I have to wash my face with ice cold water as much as possible- lucky it is warm weather here so that’s not a problem but we are coming into summer which has me very concerned.

    I unfortunately had to resume the cortisone cream last night for the first time in 2 months because the itching, redness and puffiness from the 10 mins of sun ‘damage’ on what was perfectly haealthy and glowing brown skin now looks like it’s been grafted from somebody else’s face.
    I have not had the itching for about 2 months until yesterday.
    For the past 2 months I have been taking 1000mg of Vit C for collagen repair and antioxidant, 1000mg of Vit E to help the skin and antioxidant, 600mg of biotin which is from Vit B for hair, skin and nails and CoQ10 for general health and also a powerful antioxidant.

    I had been dabbing a few drops of pure Vit E oil on the worst part of the cheeks as a moisturiser for the past few months, particularly when about a month ago the skin there first started showing signs of shedding and peeling and was quite rough- the Vit E made it soft again but I still have to exfoliate every second day to clear this excess skin which is almost like a fuzzy peach or something but I alternate with organic almond oil and emu oil which are both very good for soothing irritation as a moisturiser as the Vit E is sometimes too cloggy on the skin.

    I also drink a super rich fruit juice concentrate made and sold here in Australia made by a CSIRO scientist- it is antioxidant enriched and with ginger, white grape and red grape concentrate and tumeric which is all good for anti-inflammatory.
    I sometimes make a face mask with pure green clay to draw out toxins in the skin and mix it with high grade manuka honey.

    The first dermatologist had no clue and wanted to ‘try blasting it with super high levels of cortisone’- I’m aware of the damage that does- I already have some red broken veins and redness from the first lot of cortisone so super high cortisone from a doctor that wasn’t even sure he had the right idea?
    No thanks- that stuff thins your skin and is irreversible.
    He then wanted to do a biopsy which would leave a permanent 3mm chunk scar on my cheek- needless to say I didn’t want to go back to this guy who wanted me to see him 3 times during that week and would’ve cost me just under $1000- the $350 to stab in the dark for 15 mins was enough for me.
    He wasn’t even interested in the photos I’ve been taking of my face to show the weird things it’s done over the past 4 months to get a better idea.

    I keep getting told I’m doing all the right things to help my body along with as many good quality and natural products as possible, but for goodness sake, I’m just not finding that the body is responding in turn?

    Jan, my hair is to the middle of my back.
    Would it help if I went to the hairdresser and took a decent sized amount of this hair off or is it too late- that the toxins are already floating around in my body and seemingly winning this battle?
    I really am at wits end here and wouldn’t be surprised if this thing (which has caused a sunlover to avoid it completely, cancel almost all forms of social contact and hasn’t been able to wear any makeup for 4 months) to start suffering from some sort of depression.

    I really want this thing to go away- I have learnt my lesson and will never colour my own hair again no matter how desperate, but surely this has to end?

  • beautysmistress

    There is now a facebook group that has members who have had problems with hair dye or PPD. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=89588901272
    Good luck with getting rid of this stuff. I am still having itching attacks and some other symptoms that may be related.

  • Jan Modric

    Rachel,

    you’ve mentioned redness, pufiness and itch as symptoms, and hair dye, sun and heat as triggers. To make it clear, can you put all this in an exact time line?

    IMPORTANT: If you had itch yesterday after 2 months, what differently you did:
    – washing your hair in a certain way?
    – food you had yesterday but not for two months before?
    – new make up, soap, shampoo…?
    – drug or supplement?
    – touching someone other with dyed hair?
    – other

    Hair dye does not likely travel via hair into the skin (certain substances, like mercury, actually travel from the skin into the hair), but can irritate your face by simply touching it. So, it would be worth to try to prevent hair-face touch at night.

    I recommend you to go without any make up and oral supplements for few days – you’re exposed to several substances here and maybe you’ve developed photosensitivity to one or more of them…

    Bed lining / pillowcase – it can be the fabric itself, no matter how new and washed, that may started to irritate you.

  • Rach76

    The irritation is like swollen red welts on the cheek area- almost mimicks a butterfly rash like lupus but pathology testing for autoimmune was the first thing my regular doctor wanted to rule out and that came back clear when the irritation first became apparent that it wasn’t going away anytime soon.

    Yesterday I did nothing different, just that I had a little sun exposure for the first time in what is becoming quite warm conditions here in Queensland which is quite tropical.
    It was only 10 mins while in transit- not even intentionally out in the sun but afterwards felt like I’d been out there for a few hours or like a 2nd degree burn.

    I haven’t changed anything in terms of diet, drugs, etc and I have been avoiding makeup this whole time.
    I attempted to wear it nearly 4 months ago and within a few hours my face looked like I’d been in a bar fight.
    I have not been game to put on makeup since, considering that even with gentle washing etc I don’t need to be wearing makeup and compounding the problem.
    Having said that, at such a young age, I’m not looking forward to never being able to wear makeup again or at least for a long time.
    It is the uncertainty and the fact that my face is so unpredictable that annoys me.

    I bought a hair cap today and will try that and see if it makes any difference to helping not come in contact with the face while sleeping.

    Is this photosensitivity permanent- has my face now lost the ability to tolerate mild sunshine or is this only while we’re still trying to figure out how to cure it?
    Vitamin E is supposed to protect against sun damage so I’m surprised that so little of it had such a reaction and I’m worried about the days ahead in this weather.

    The only thing that seems to aleviate it somewhat is being in airconditioning.
    I can email photos privately if it helps.

  • Jan Modric

    Rachel,

    photosensitivity is reaction of sunlight with certain substances deposited in your skin, like a certain cream you use, or an *oral* drug or supplement. If this was the case, avoiding those substances would help.

    Again, it would really help, if you can put all your symptoms and their triggers/relievers into a timeline: When it all started, in how many minutes/hours after certain trigger symptoms appeared, what exact effect drugs have had (in a short factual manner).

    Since you are saying heat itself also irritates your face, and aircondition helps, “physical urticaria” is possible. Oral OTC antihistamine, like Benadryl, or prescribed oral steroids would likely help in this case.

    On the other hand, it’s possible that the hair dye has triggered not only an allergy to a PPD, but also to certain other product, containing PPD or not. This is called cross-reactivity. Anti-allergic drugs would also help in this case.

    Options:
    – Discontinuing all creams and oral supplements, except eventual drugs for certain medical condition you might have.
    – Avoiding sun and heat sources
    – Trying a cap, new type of pillowcase (cotton maybe), and, sleeping on your back (all this torture is meant as a trial only…)
    – Providing your complete medical history and an exact timeline of recent facial symptoms to your doctor and discussing with him/her about “physical urticaria”, “photosensitivity”…oral corticosteroids or antihistamines.
    – I believe a caring and knowledgable dermatologist can help you, when you provide him all mentioned info and pictures. Another option is allergologist.

  • Jan Modric

    To ravinab.

    We do not assist or recommend any hair dye.