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


1. Hair dye allergy symptoms (
2. Allergy in hair-dressers (
3. PPD in fur coats (
4. PPD banned (
5. Hair dye subsatnces causing allergy (
6. Allergic contact dermatitis (
7. Anaphylactic shock (
8. Skin patch test (

About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer

Please note that any information or feedback on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a health care professional and will not constitute a medical diagnosis. By using this website and the comment service you agree to abide by the comment terms and conditions as outlined on this page

  • Yussef Basheer

    I get very bad itching when I colour beard with normal hair colour( without amonia), please advise any colour that will not cause itching to the skin. Also advise where and how to order it

  • Piet Nirvana

    but your much on my mind, you often get declin. Piet Nirvana.

  • florene heck

    after 20 years of dying my hair to hide grey roots i have become allergic to hair dye. My grey is hard to cover.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • Jan Modric

    To Yussef Basheer: It’s maybe appropriate time to re-consider, if you can maybe accept to not color your beard. Why certain dye causes itching? A skin allergy test (PATCH test) would be needed to determine if you are allergic on some substance contained in the dye.

    To florene heck: Both dyes you’ve mentioned seem to be PPD free, so you should have a skin PATCH test done to see, which substances (may be more than one) cause allergy in your case. Shaving won’t help. Wig doesn’t seem to be appropriate, regarding your sensitive skin.

  • Sohail

    Is there any permanenent hair color which does not cause allergic reactions?
    Pls advise names.

    What is treatment of allergy reaction due to permanent hair color?

    Pls reply.

  • carol

    I had a reaction to hair dye last May – my scalp burned, itched and peeled. Furthermore, I experienced difficulty breathing, and watched my hands and feel curl in. A month later, a rash appeared on the front of both legs. All of these rashes persist to date (December). Is it possible for the reaction to affect other parts of the body from where the dye was applied?

  • sarah

    I normally dye my hair by just getting full highlights and had never fully died my head until 3 weeks ago. After doing so my whole head went numb and started to swell. I got a severe reaction and my eyes were swollen shut. I ended up in the hospital and now am stuck wondering if there are any alternatives to fix my hair. I HAVE never had a problem with getting lowlights and fullhilights and am scared to try them now just incase i somehow recently developped this allergy? HELP

  • Nikki :D

    I took an allergic reaction to my permanent hairdye two days ago.
    I got a slight rash the first day but i woke up at six in the morning with a very itchy sculp.
    i washed my hair to make sure all chemicals were removed. After i went to the doctor nd he gave me a cream to reduce the itching and rash, now it is starting to clear up.
    I got told i was lucky it didnt get to my face, so i got quite a fright.

    can i every dye my hair again ?

  • kirsty

    iwant ma hair do 4 ma 18 n 1 cant fine a hair dye want wont make me come out in a rash

  • patticraft

    I also had hives from using perm hair dye with PPD. I stiopped using that dye, used natural henna for 3 months, it didn’t really cover the grey. My hives went away. Good luck.

  • noah

    I am allergic to hair dyes may be PPD and Iam trying hard to find for the ideal one . I have tested so many but left in depair.

    Please can you suggest me the right one or the solution for the problem. Thank you for your assistance.

  • Jan Modric

    To Sohail: I don’t know if any permanent hair dye without PPD exists. Treatment of allergy is
    1. wash the head as described in article
    2. antihistamine drugs to ease mild symptoms as itching;
    3. intravenous drugs in emergency room, when difficult breathing or severe face swelling appear.

    To Nikki. Hair dye allergy means that your body phisically refuses particular substance. There’s no treatment which would permanently heal allergy, only treatment of symptoms is possible. I have increasing grey hair from the elementary school, as my mother. She actually stopped to use any hair dye after 20 years or more.

    At noah: dermatologist may perform a patch test (described in article) to see which dyes you are allergic to.

  • Jan Modric

    To carol: Symptoms of hair-dye allergies may appear in distant part of the body: rash on the legs, difficult breathing, diarrhea etc are possible. This occurs in more severe cases in sensitive people, and it is due to release of histamine, triggered by PPD. Allergy is permanent or long lasting and it can be triggerd by tinny amounts of PPD.

  • Karen

    I have been coloring my hair with permanent hair dye for almost 20 years with no problems. Recently I switched to a new brand and color, which seemed to work fine for me for several months. However a few days ago, after coloring my hair I developed an itchy rash, hives on my neck, and swelling around my face. I had to see my doctor for a steroid shot. I’m guessing I’ve developed an allergy to PPD. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to color my hair again! I have medium brown hair, but prefer keeping it blonde. I am getting more gray now that I’m getting older and want to be able to cover it. If I switch back to my old brand of hair color that I used for years, will I likely be okay? That brand never bothered me at all and the creme color always appeared to be a pale lavender color. My new brand was a dark purple color when wet. I’ve heard that darker color cremes can cause more problems. Or will I always have a reaction to any hair color that I use now? Please help! I’m so worried I’ll never be able to to color and lighten my hair again! Thank you!

  • Jan Modric

    To Karen:
    First, you have to know for sure, if you are allergic to PPD or to some other component of the hair dye. A skin test made by allergologist is needed to findd out this. If it is allergy to PPD, you’ll be allergic on any PPD dye.

  • gogo548

    I’m finding that there are more and more of us out there developing this allergy. I ended up in Urgent Care back in Dec ’06. I’m trying to help others unite and maybe find an answer or at least come up with different options. I have come to the conclusion that if my body goes this far to reject something, it’s obviously bad for me and maybe I should listen. Just because they have yet to find out if it contributes to cancer, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t.

  • Elyse

    I have been dying my hair for 49 years. I use to have an exceptionally full head of hair. Last year I switch my hair color… Every time I colored it my scalp was pink. 8 months ago my hair started to thin considerably. I went to a dermatologist and she said to get a hair color without peroxide , amonia, root penetrator(resorsenol? )My colorist recommended a semi permanent Wella brand that did not have these chemicals in it. I have had a biopsy on my scalp which indicates the foliciles are normal but have received a shock of some sort. I am still loosing hair, but my doctor says she sees new hair growing back. I do not see it. What do you suggest?

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • michaelp

    It seems incredible that no one has come out with a hair dye that doesn’t fry people’s skin. To paraphrase an old cliche, we can send a man to the moon but can’t come up with a hair dye that doesn’t burn the hell out of people? Surely someone must be working on this. There are probably millions of dollars to be made by such a product, and the makers of stuff like Just For Men must be aware of that. It’s sort of mind-boggling. I have gray facial hair and no gray on my head, and it looks bizzare; the only thing that looks worse is when I’m clean shaven. I wouldn’t pay an exhorbitant price for a product that doesn’t burn, but I’d certainly buy a reasonably priced one if it was out there.

  • modric

    @ gogo548: Agree, our body sometimes knows better what is good for us, as we do.

    @michaelp: They have also not found a medicine for common cold…

  • Dj_Star

    About a year ago I dyed my hair black and had a rash all over my body and a fried scalp. It was painful and took months to clear up. I learned through research that it was likely an allergic reacion to PPD. In my teens when I dyed my hair blonde and I never had any problems. Can I still do streaking if the color doesn’t touch my scalp, or am I permanently (or long term) sensitized to any amount of hair color? I never had an allergy test because that involves applying chemicals to the skin. Are there any permanent hair colors that don’t contain PPD? Your advice is greatly appreciated, Joanna.

  • Rashy

    After many years of coloring my hair, I started to get an allergic reaction to hair dye. While waiting in the salon after color was applied I could feel a burning sensation on my scalp. After being shampooed, cut and dried, I felt o.k. Hours later, the skin behind my ears and on the edges of my scalp began to develop chemical burns. The skin eroded and left raw patches which stuck to my hair. I applied Vaseline, which did nothing. After about two weeks, everything healed. I started bringing my own color which was labeled all natural. Same results. Any suggestions, other than going gray?

    Thanks for any info on this.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • modric

    @Dj_Star: You touch the hair with your hand skin or other ways, so PPD-containing hair dyes are not for you – permanently.

    For more, search.

  • Sandee

    A few years ago, I developed a hair color allergy that put me in the hospital for a day. Anywhere the color came in contact with developed painful, open, weeping sores. My eye lids swelled. I had to have several injections in the ER and a full course of steroids at home. Awful, awful!

  • kellygirl

    I know a bit about dye allergies…To date, I haven ‘t found an alternative to hair dye, besides henna.

    The allergic person can develop an allergy to hair dye all of a sudden: I’ve dyed my hair for 15 years, and it happened suddenly. I’ve also learned that if the person assumes it’s a fluke, and tries it again a few weeks, months or even a year later, he or she will react worse that time than the first reaction, and will probably develop other allergies as well. for example. i’m now allergic to perfume, some foods, and many cosmetics as well as hair dye. it’s tempting to try again, to just see if the hair dye might work, or if my body will just “take it” but the reactions get worse. I’ve been to the er twice, and it’s likely that if i tried it again, i’d to into shock and die.

  • anneliza

    I stopped dyeing my hair four years ago, because I had a breakout of rash on the scalp, and my face was bright red. I had to make my own soap to make sure there were no chemicals or additives, and used only that, and olive oil to moisturize, and then it cleared up. I didn’t think it was really the hair dye, and two months ago I again used a TEMPORARY dye (no PPD), and two days later, it flared up again! The whole back of my head is crusted, weeping, itchy, hot. Now it is spreading down my neck along my collar bone. Miserable! I tried Apple Cider Vinegar (leave on for 1 hour), and it seems to be helping, and coconut oil to moisturize. It is no longer weeping, and doesn’t itch so much, after just one day. But I will never color my hair again, I will go gray gracefully. It’s not worth it.

  • aladon

    I’ve got the answer!!!!!! The reason you develope the rash is because of sweat against the hair color. Take some medicated powder and dust it through your hair unto the scalp when you sleep.
    This will greatly reduce the rash!!!!!!!
    Same for your beard— Your welcome

  • Deborah

    After 20+ years of dyeing and highlighting I seem to have developed a severe allergic reaction to the dye. I also have had lupus for years and the allergic reaction now seems to attack any weak area on my body that was affected by the lupus. At first I was dubious that it was the dye and postponed coloring my hair for a long time. I tried it again this past week and there is no doubt….head feels like it is on fire and itchy. Blisters on my neck and around my ears and hairline leaving crusty and weeping sores. I guess hair coloring is out of the question now?? I have been taking Benadryl and soaking my head with a salicylic acid/zinc shampoo. Anyone have any other suggestions? Thank you!

  • catherine

    i have been dying my hair for 30 years or more and have had a terrible skin rash for 12 years or so…i now think it is hair dye…but it took getting all the gluten out of my body to realize it…mine is on my face so someone said that is terrible please tel me what to do…peroxide does help but it is blistering all over my nose and cheek now and i so use peroxide and its helping
    i am low income with no subsidy or insurance and will not go to a doctor
    or emergency room altho its very bad
    and i need to know what to do
    please help

  • modric

    @catherine Hair dyes with PPD obviously aren’t for you. Stop using them, symptoms should go away after some time. Carefully clean your face, do not touch it much to prevent infection.

  • wolfgangsmom

    update- I did a few more patch tests yesterday. The first three tests were blond and I need brown. The tests I did yesterday were brown. Anyway, I reacted badly to all of yesterdays. Swollen, itchy, soon to be weeping and the rest. I tried 2% hydrogen peroxide on the wounds for the first time today. I read that it will oxidize the PPD and stop the reaction from getting worse. (also took a Benedril and will do this every 4 hours). I will write back when i know more.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • wolfgangsmom

    Sadly, I reacted to all tests near my hair line on my neck. I am sorry I was so excited that I reported here too early after the tests on my arms we fine. I guess I will go back to foiling and live with the smaller reactions. Once I heal (my neck is a mess right now) I will test the blond again on my neck just eliminate all possible good results.On a lighter note, I did get a perscription for 2.5% steroid cream and that seems to help a little with the itching.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • Truthhurts

    I colored my hair today and had a terrible reaction. When I was in highschool I would color my hair and nothing would happen. I colored my hair about 7 years ago and had a terrible reaction ) eyes closed, head swole up terribly), then about 5 months ago I colored my hair at home and had an even worse reaction. I didn;t think it was the dye and I tried again at the salon. Needless to say I an suffereing from weeping swelling and soine itching. Honestly it’s not as bad as the first or second time. I wiped my scalp with peroxide and have been using olive oil to keep it from getting too stiff. I WILL NEVER try it again. I just pray I make it through this one. It really isn;t worth it.

  • pgarrison

    My name is Patricia and I started coloring my hair about twenty some odd years ago no problems,now the last three years I’ve developed allergies to any hair colors I use the last time I colored my hair about six months ago,I had to go to the dr. my eyes swelled one eye swelled shut I had large knots all over my head that was infected and swollens and I was very weak. I could’nt go to work,I looked like a monster. what can I do? I don’t like gray me please.

  • modric

    I don’t think that some permanent color dye without PPD currently exists. I’m a man, and had my first grey hair in the elementary school!

    What will happen, if you show people your grey hair? What exactly will happen?

  • debs

    I am a prior hairdresser who developed a bad allergy to the color in the way of cracked, rashy, blistered hands…I have always been tolerable of lowlights on my hair, but recently had full color applied to my hair and the next day started to have itching and burning, then redness, then swelling and blistering, scalp and hairline, ears and neck…after ten days of prednisone, it disipated. I tried another brand a few months later and within minutes of it being on my scalp, I started to feel it burning, numbness, swelling, and my heart rate was off (nerves or reaction?) se rinsed it within 5 minutes of aplication but stll blistered and swollen…another ten days of prednisone and I have sworn it off and will have to grow old gracefully…highlights are fine, as bleach does not contain PPD, but you can only do a few before you end up too blonde and need lowlights…so I do it sparingly for a little brightness and texture…ugh…those of us with this issue will just have to accept our natural beauty I suppose!!! Whaaa!!!

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • Laura

    unfortunately it took me 6 months to figure out that the rash i was suffering from was caused by hair dye.

    After having highlights for many years (without any problems) i decided to colour my hair chestnut brown because my gray roots were a bit unsightly, even with blond highlights.
    The same day i went jogging. A few hours later, the sunlight and my sweat must have triggered the reaction: a horrible, itchy rash on my neck and shoulders. I saw an allergy specialist, who didn’t even bother to ask me if i colour my hair.
    I had a patch test, but PPD was not among the substances. It turned out i was allergic to nickel. So, i started avoiding all canned food, spinach, nuts etc. basically all food that contain nickel. Two months later i coloured my hair again because I didn’t think that would cause an allergy. Again, a horrible rash on my temples, eyelids, neck and shoulders. My scalp was ok, so i didn’t suspect the hair dye was the real culprit. I blamed the restaurant where i ate…maybe they had used canned food.
    Only last time i dyed my hair two weeks ago, my scalp became so red, itchy and inflamed, that i realised that was the cause. My neck is still covered in a rash, and my lymph nodes got so swollen and painful i had to take a few days off. My face broke out, though the pustules don’t look like pimples. They don’t heal, and are very itchy. After looking at pictures of people who had an allergic reaction to hair dye, i noticed that they looked exactly the same as me!

    Stay away from hair dyes. I will go back to highlights, even if the roots are grey.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • sooze

    Hi I have a terrible allergy to hair dyes swelling of the neck and the most awful itchinh and burningall over my head and ears, My hairdressers uses an aonia free dye. I will still dye it as I hate to see grey roots. Is there a coolingonditioner I can use after.

  • emerico

    i have allergy to hair dye. My skin and scalp react within minutes.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • Debs,
    I can’t believe how many posts there are since I was last here. I KNOW there have got to be hundreds if not more of us experiencing this issue. I don’t know why, but it seems to really be a growing allergy. Oh, and it sux!

    Please come by and share:

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • klil88

    Use hair dye for years. Began to sense a mild reaction. Changed. Increasing reaction until very severe as described in other posts above. However, I now have asthmatic response and cross reaction to compounds with sulfates and benzocaine: Neosporain with benzocain and Cordaide-10. Going to Duke University tomorrow for pulmanary function studies and allergy testing. If you have any type of reaction, stop using it immediately. Reaction only worsens with repeated exposure. I now carry an EpiPen. PPD banned in several European countries. Note: PPD has many, many synonyms. Suspect some of us may be developing PPD allergy later in life as hormone changes affect our immune system.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • Ban PPD

    After years of using hair dyes, I too, developed a itchy
    head due to hair dyes. I tried using an allergy pill after
    I had my hair done, and it helped, but the PPD allergy
    got increasingly worse. What would happen
    you asked, if you simply went gray ? Why people
    would treat you like you were 100 years older than you
    really were.

    If some places in Europe has banned PPD, then it would be reasonable to believe that they must have
    some other products for the graying population that
    would not be as harmful.

  • Jen

    Approx 6 days after dying my hair I noticed spots and itching around hairline, shoulders and top of back. Also ulsers in mouth. Since then spots and itching have spread to arms, belly and now to legs. Nothing major, just upto a dozen spots in each location. They look like small pinhead sized blisters.

    I have been taking antihistamine but doc is not sure of the cause. Could this be hair dye as I have had mind reactions in the past and my mum is allergic to hair dye.

  • Jan Modric

    Hm, 6 days is a long period for allergy. Even in delayed allergy you get symptoms within 72 hours.

    This type of rash you’ve described often appears in some digestive diseases like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

  • SandraLynne

    I have hair dye allergy and would like to note that hennas can cause reactions too. I used hennas for years and tried one that was supposedly “natural”…had a bout of wheezing with my asthma that sent me to the doc. The hair dye allergy happened about 15 years ago, and the allergist told me that if I hadn’t been on predisone at the time it would have killed me, the reaction was that severe!(
    I have to avoid all dyes and hennas now, unfortunately, and live with going gray:(

  • Jan Modric

    @SandraLynne: I had my first gray hair in elementary school…It’s good you’ve reported that hair dyes may cause asthma – this is not common.

  • ChrissyT

    I dyed my hair many times and nothing happened. Then I tried another one that was supposedly better for your scalp. My forhead started to swell and overnight, my face had become a giant balloon. If I use the first one again, will I have the same allergic reaction? I don’t want to live with grey hairs when I’m older.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.


    … i am also allergic to all the others. It is a semi permenant hair dye. My head gets swollen from any other one.

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • Jan Modric

    @ChrissyT You won’t be able to use that dye safely any more. This probably applies for other permanent hair dyes.

  • tracey

    I started going grey when I was 24 and have been colouring my hair since. I’m now 40 and have developed an allergy where my head burns when the colour is on, then itches for a few days after.

    The worst part though, is that when I wash the colour off I shed an incredible amount of hair. I’ve checked and it’s not snapping, but falling out, the root is visible. My hair is very thin now and I’ve decided to stop colouring, but I think I’m probably 80% grey :o( I’m not sure I can cope with grey – could I go blonde safely?

  • Editor

    @ tracey
    Allergy is to PPD part of hair dye.

    Hair may be made blond by several ways, that don’t include PPD, only I’m not sure what will be the result of discoloring of grey hair.

    With having so vulnerable hair, I’m not sure, if it is appropriate to use any further hair chemicals though. I think you should first concentrate on how to strenghten your hair.

  • pbconway

    I am now in the throes of what I guess is a hair dye allergy. My ears rims are all crusty and my head is itchy. But I think I am on the downside as everything seems to be drying up. What now though? I don’t want to go gray yet. Has anyone tried the sanotint products? I found it on the internet and I have ordered one, but I haven’t received it yet. Of course I will do the patch test first, but I hope it works.

  • Rachael

    About 5 years ago I had an allergic reaction to black hair dye. I thought it was due to colouring my hair twice in the space on 3 weeks and was told by the hospital that it was over processed. Anyways, on Friday I thought I’d try again, as it had been so long since it had been coloured. Thankfully I didnt dye the whole head. We did not leave it on for long and everything appeared to be fine, until this morning when I woke up looking like a monster.My forehead had swollen up! I had a very high temperature and the shock made me hyperventilate.

    My friend was able to reaserch on line and find that Benedryl could help which we bought and I have taken the final dose for the day. So far nothing in terms of the sweeling going down. I have washed my hair about 3 times now and it is really hard at the front. I have applied olive oil so I’m hoping this might help.

    My head feels really heavy!And my forhead is starting to feel itchy now.

    Can someone advise roughly how long this can go on for and if it is going to get worse?

    Thanks in advance



  • Editor

    @ Rachel
    Swelling and itching should go away in a couple of days. It may take few weeks that you’ll feel completealy healed though.

    If you’ll experience difficult breathing, dizzines or continuing swelling, go to the doctor rigt away to get potent anti-allergic medications.

    You’ve obviously had a late allergic reaction (occurs from 6-72 hours after coloring). Hair dye alergies usually don’t go away, even not in years.

  • Stacy

    Had may hair highlighted and colored at a salon on Saturday, and on Sunday my hands became very SWELLED up, and my scalp feel INFLAMED. (I went from dark brown hair over a year ago, to blond highlights with light brown undertones.)

    I started to wonder if the hair dye was irritating my scalp and causing swelling in my hands. Now thinking back, this happened five weeks ago when I had my hair highlighted and colored.)

    Now after reading that the reactions only get worse with every coloring, I’m thinking I will not use hair dye with PPD. I am wondering if I can go back to my original dark brown by using a natural hair dye that you find at Natural Food Markets??

    (This is so frightening, I was afraid that coloring my hair with strong chemicals might cause problems – NOW I know the truth.)

  • Stacy

    Oh ya, I also found this very informative personal story, I think it is worth reading.

    To Color or not to Color
    Posted 10/28/2004
    By: Perri Jackson

  • Jan Modric

    “I am wondering if I can go back to my original dark brown by using a natural hair dye that you find at Natural Food Markets??”

    It’s usually PPD that is the culprit, but you can be also allergic to other substances. Finding “natural” on the label doesn’t mean, the product is safe. As you know, allegies are often to polens, eggs…(natural substances).

  • Stacy

    Hi Jan,

    In that case what do they use in Europe in those countries that ban PPD?

    Also, do some reactions cause small red welts on the scalp?

    Thank you for all you help.


  • Jan Modric

    Honestly, I’m trying to convince you to try with your natural hair.

    “Small red welts”..can you describe in detail, or link to some Google images or so? Is it like acne or like patches of red skin? If it’s like bumps, it may be staphylococcal folliculitis or other type of folliculitis. If they are patches, it may be from allergy. Rash of allergic origin should go away in few days. If not, it’s possible the dye is still irritating you.

  • Stacy


    Thanks for the answer. They are like none (these welts) I’ve ever had before in my life, so they must be allergy from the dye.

    But I have a more urgent question right now, can the dye make a person sensitive to plastics?? I have an IUD (w/o hormone) and now I have an irritation problem, that I’ve gone back twice to the doctor and medicines are not helping. And I was wondering if possibly I’m senstive to plastics now?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Anne

    I tested + in a patch test for PPD after having strange symptoms for years. My dermatologist gave me some info on it. It comes from coal tar. It is also used in accelerators & antioxidants in the rubber & plastics industry, in photographic developers, photocopying & fur & leather dyes. It also cross reacts with many other chemicals such as PABA & some local anesthetics. PPD can be in cosmetics, nail polish, printer cartidges, even suncreens! It can increase photosensitivity (reactions in the sun.) My suncreen seemed to make it worst – now I know!
    Jan – yes your IUD can be causing a reaction, as does the plastic part on feminine hygiene pads!!
    Search the web, do your research! This stuff is dangerous!

  • Shannon

    I am amazed at how many people are having reactions to hair dye. I have been coloring my hair for 10 years now and up until 3 weeks ago never had any reason to believe i was allergic.

    My scalp would always be slightly pink but never anything more sever. 3 weeks ago I was unable to get an appointment with my hairdresser and used Loreal preference to touch up my roots (something I have done many times before). My scalp started to burn and i immediately took the dye off. I noticed blisters all over my scalp. I was not in much pain but still very worried.

    Does anyone know if there are any long term effects to having a reaction… hair loss?

  • Jan Modric

    in your case there should be no permanent damage. Allergy is to skin, it’s like inflammation, but no real destruction of hair follicles occur.

  • Har Looi

    Everytime I suffer from my allergic reaction to dying my hair, I swear I’ll never do it again. Then two months later, and I start to look old, I figure OK maybe I’ll be more careful this time and it may not happen again. Each time I’m proved wrong. Now, I’m just using the temporary mascara coloring. Its an inconvenience but at least I’m not suffering from blisters all over my neck and ears.

  • prettyinpink

    I am severely depressed at the moment. I have long, dark blonde hair that I get highlighted three times a year at the local salon. They also used a cap and last month I decided I would try some where new as I thought the foil may be a better option so it wouldn’t hurt. I have never been skin tested or anything and have always been fine. However, the new salon I tried said they’d need to do a skin test. They did and my ear swelled up and I have a big nasty rash with white pimples all over it. I have tablets and steroid cream to clear it. Now I am so worried as other salons say they cannot give me highlights without a skin test. I can’t bare another skin test.
    My hair desperately needs doing and I am deeply upset about this, I am only 23 and I have no idea what to do. I would go back to my old hairdresser but I’m worried I may have a reaction now
    Thank you for any help

  • Jan Modric


    if the reaction was to PPD component of hair dye then you won’t be able to use permanent hair dyes with PPD again. So, you can ask this new hairdresser if that was PPD test.

    Your hair is OK otherwise, I mean when not colored?

  • prettyinpink

    hi jan,

    thank you for replying. yeah my hair is okay otherwise, great condition i just hate mousey blonde hair and NEED my highlights. damn me for trying a new hairdresser!

    i am going to ring up the hairdresser right now, i am guessing it will have had ppd in.

    i am blistered this morning where it was, it looks disgusting lol

  • prettyinpink

    hi jan,

    i rang the salon up and they used a high concentration of ppd and refused to test me again. as i am dark blonde and want to go lighter i find this quite shocking, as i shouldn’t need huge amounts of quantites of ppd. i tried another salon and they said they will see me on saturday and i could highlight my hair using bleach instead. although that is not ideal and could damage my hair i am considering it.

    my old hairdresser says she will do it again but she refuses to do the foils and always does the cap. my hair is very long, half way down my back and is extremely thick and i just don’t think this is a good idea. she is always incredibly arsy with me, but i am considering going there too.

    i’m such a worry wart, someone tell me what to do

  • Jan Modric

    Hi, prettypinpink,
    write down names of five people you know, who are telling you that you need such and such hair. You’re lucky with having strong hair. Blond is not wrong, even dark blond 🙂 .

    This issue is also not about your new or old hairdresser. When ppd is tried directly on the skin (ear), and probably in concentration not comparable with that in hair dyes, reaction may occur. So, it was direct contact and high concentration. But you can’t go back now – even small concentrations of PPD will trigger reactions from now on. It just happened, I don’t see the reason to blame anyone.

  • prettyinpink

    hey jan,

    oh i’m not blaming anyone at all, in fact i’m pretty grateful they tested beforehand. my only concern is that i’ll never be able to highlight my hair again after years of being perfectly fine. just because of this one patch test, has this started the reaction? it’s just confusing and i’m annoyed – but just annoyed not directed at anyone.


  • Jan Modric

    Yes, prettyinpink, it’s obvious that this test has started reaction. In your previous hair colorings, PPD probably hasn’t touched skin so directly, or was not present in such high concentration. But now since this started even small concentrations of PPD can cause reactions.

  • blondewannabe

    Wow PrettyinPink I am kind of having the same problem as you. In fact pretty much identical, and I haven’t a clue what to do with one’s situation.

    I have gorgeous long blonde highlighted hair, however recently I decided to try somewhere else and they did a dye test behind my ear and I reacted very badly to it. The next day just to clarify I went to another salon and asked for another test. The same thing happened!

    I, like you had never done tests before or had my local hairdresser. Now I am fooked cause I am terrified to go for my normal highlights – scared to death!

    Are you goingt to chance it?

    I think you should and then tell me how it goes

  • Jan Modric

    blondewannabe, you simply ask your hairdresser if there is PPD in the dye you used before. If yes, you won’t be able to use this dye again.

  • Ray

    I suddenly started having allergic reactions to hair dye, after colouring my hair for years. My hairdresser is ordering in a hair dye that she said should do the job but I dont know how long it will be until then…

    Ive been looking around and found that ‘Herbatint’ contains no ammonia or PPD..has anyone tried it? Is it safe?
    My hair has recently been chemically treated so I wont be dying it any time soon but it has made my hair a burnt, orange brown colour-really weird looking-esp. with my dark eyebrows! Let me know if you have tried the product and if there was any reaction..
    Thanks 🙂

  • abbi

    I have, in the past, had an itchy scalp after dying my hair with semi permanent hair dye, then decided to use Herbatint. This was on advice from the lady in the health/organice shop and I thought it was a natural product. I had a severe reaction to the dye. My skin especially under my eyes became full of fluid, my eyes closed up and I have severe swelling of my head. I was put on a high dose of steroids and had to see my Doctor everyday. It was a real frightening experience!Please,make sure you carry out an patch test for at least 72 hours.

  • Naresh

    My mother had severe reaction to hair dyes. Now she has chronic scalp inflammation. Please can anyone tell me how hyrdogen peroxide should be applied. Can hydrogen peroxide be left of the scalp after applying it on the scalp or does it have to be washed off after say an hour?

  • Shorty

    I have just completed months of testing for rash on neck, swollen and burning eyes. I was tested for PPD but was told it was negative. I had highlights weeks prior to rash appearing. I finally gave up and cut my hair and this has worked and my symptoms have greatly improved. However when around others with dark colored dye in closed areas my eyes burn. Have you ever heard of this?

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • lml2864

    I too have haircolor allergies. After having hair done it usually takes about 3-5 hours for scalp to feel hot itching will start then next day will get welts and glands will swell behind ears and neck. I’ve tried benadryl before coloring doesn’t work. Usually will last for about a month. I have never had a problem with bleach. I have done a patch test with several types of professional colors. Then I finally found one that even colors my GREY!! Its Lumin by Goldwell. No developer doesn’t lift, deposit only. I am still searching for others. Hope this helps. Lisa



  • Hairissues

    Reading this blog, it was good to know I was not alone. I have tried them all. PPD, no PPD, natural, etc. I react to all of them. I have learned to do the patch tests on my shin. The skin there is much less sensitive and you can wear pants until it heals.

    My solution? Acceptance. I an 50 and hate my graying hair. But I have found a very careful hairdresser who foil wraps me whole head and is very diligent in applying and rinsing the product. She also puts petroleum jelly all around my face and neck and ties a long cord of cotton around my hairline to protect my skin. This works well. She rinses each foil piece separatly instead of taking all of them out and doing an overall rinsing to prevent dye product touching my scalp. This worked so well, I didn’t have one itchy bump whatsoever. I guess this is what I’ll be doing from now on.

  • dye and die?

    Hairissues – Are you having color, or highlights done using foils? I’m in the same boat, but am terrified of having another allergic reaction.

    I so-o-o appreciate all who have written to this site, and agree with those who suspect that PPD & cross-reactions are much more widespread than mainstream media have reported. I’ve never reacted to any foods or chemicals before, except for a high sensitivity (toxicity) to Mercury and all derivatives, which was acquired from thimersol in contact lense solutions, in vaccines, and 55% mercury amalgam fillings. Anyway, I can’t help but wonder whether all life-forms are becoming overly sensitized to allergens and pathogens – such as the birds with avian flu, the bees dying in colony collapse, and us humans succombing to a host of immune diseases, like diabetes, etc. My one chemical compromise and vanity is covering the grey, and the horrid reactions I had a few weeks ago were just short of fatal. I dunno. It’s a quagmire when so much emphasis is on superficial appearance, rather than value. As a female I’ve never thought that grey in men was unattractive. But for me, it sets the clock ahead by decades so I’ll have to figure out something. A turban?

  • Morningstar

    Dear HairIssues,
    I developed a really bad PPD allergy at 51 and was heart broken to learn I had to grow out by hair (which had been dyed brown with caramel highlights). I was NOT ready to go gray in my mind.

    Never mind – with the help of a great book “Going Gray, Looking Great ” by Diana Jewell I not only got through it I now embrace and love my silver hair with God given highlights.

    She also has a site
    where you will see women young and old PPD allergic or allergy free making the transition and helping each other along the way. Once your done – you then have an amazing number of fabulous role models and info on making the best of your natural hair. Please try it out – you won’t regret it!

  • Hairissues

    Dye and Die

    In the past I have had highlights. But I wanted to go back to my all brown natural color. This time I just did one color of dye. No highlights. I doesn’t make any difference though. I have the same reaction even on highlights.

    An update to my last comments. I said I had no bumps or anything, but a few days later I developed a reaction behind my right ear only. The skin turned raw and rough and then began to come off leaving a red area which is weeping with fluid. My hairdresser must have got a small amount on my ear. NO other area has reacted. But this used to be my whole head, neck and face so I guess it’s an improvement.

  • Debbie

    Hi to all of you out there,
    after reading all your comments on allergies to hair dyes im convinced thats whats causing my problems. about 24 hours after dying my hair with Loreal excell 10 i have itchy rash on neck ears,sides of face and chest also tightness of the chest and a wheezy dry cough. went to Drs he thought its an allergy to something im digesting and gave me anti histamines and an inhaler. Rash is now under control but still feel like i have asthma, yet never had before. Terrified, I feel to young to go grey, has anyone tried Logona Herbal hair colour? i loved the excell 10 my hair has never been in such good condition. ive tried Herbatint and Natutint in the past and my hair went dry and the colour not good. i feel very low can any one help?

  • nosulfites

    I’m allergic to sulfites…Will that make me more likly to be allergic the ppd in hair dye??..I’ve been dying/bleaching my hair for about 13 yrs..sometimes it will burn my scalp and my eyes water..but i’ve never broken out in sores or have swelled up..I do carry epi pens in case of exposure to sulfites though.

  • Linda

    My first reaction was a year ago, but didn’t get diagnosed with PPD alergy until December. In those 11 months, I was on steroids several times and miserable almost all the time. Now my inmmune system is screwed up – have CVID – common variable immune deficiency. I’m wondering if the allergy contibuted to that? Guess I’ll ask the doc at my next appointment. Would love to keep something close to the color I have, but it’s definately not worth the medical problems.

  • Lynne West

    Struggling to cover grey hairline, ppd allergy very bad, dont know what to try next.

  • diane

    I left an informative comment with information of a successful product for coloring hair when allergic to PPD. Why hasn’t it been posted as yet?

  • Jan Modric

    Diane, to say openly, we are not encouraging anyone to use hair dyes, and especially we did not intend to promote certain brands or stores that sell them.

  • Lindsey

    Someone asked what will happen if you let your gray show. In my experience…possibly nothing except freedom from roots!

    A year ago, my scalp itched & peeled after dyeing. Redness & heat on the neck & hairline. My longtime Wella shampoo irritated me, too. So I stopped dyeing. I had no idea how much gray I had, as I had colored for 13 yrs. Went short to speed the transition. More people noticed the short hair change from my usual medium to long length than did the color.

    Now that it’s back to medium-length salt & pepper, it’s not a real issue. I noticed one friend my age looking at my hair; coworkers from a few years ago didn’t seem to pay it any mind at all when I saw them recently.

    It probably helps that my gray is the same texture as my brown hair (no more coarse, frizzy or fragile.)

    I am 48. With brown hair, people guessed me to be 38. So, with gray hair, & a haircut appropriate for a 30-40 something, I just look my age. No one treats me like a senior citizen!

    Gray is much less scary than allergic skin reactions. Trust me on this one. 🙂

  • diane

    Re my post not listed:
    The product I recommended is safe, herbal formula. It contains no phenylenediamine, coal tar dyes, resoricinol, ammonia, sythetic colors, preservatives or fragrances. It is a Henna type product that does not send your hair orange or red. For the desperate ladies seeking answers I feel it is unfair not to share this information. I have no financial gains to make out of my comment, only to share my experiences & my relief to find this product. Please reconsider your actions.

  • Jan Modric

    Diane, I don’t consider gray hair as an ilness, and hair dyes as a treatment.

  • diane

    You may not find gray hair as an illness, but many of us CHOOSE not to be gray.
    I developed a burning sensation, followed by blisters, itching peeling scalp lasting up two 3 weeks after having a salon color. Also increase heart palpitations.
    Color consultants/reps were called into the salon to do tests on me. Patch test behind my ear revealed nothing.
    I tried dried oats wet in a stocking dabbing my inflamed injured scalp, medications from the chemist & antihistamines from my doctor.
    The final straw came when my scalp swelled, which then moved down my face that I looked quite scary, my friends said I looked like a mongoloid. I actually had to miss my first Chris Isack concert. This condition lasted for a week & had been going on for at least 4 years.
    I have reread all the previous posts
    florene sept 07 asks…are there any products….
    Noah march 16 08 asks …can you suggest the right one
    michaelp june 4th 08 asks…is there a hair dye that doesn’t burn the hell out of you
    gogo548 may 24 08 states….more of us are developing this allergy
    You say…..For more, search.
    Other posts have given names of products which you have printed.
    All I am doing is sharing a product that I have been using for two years with NO side effects, yet you will not share this with your viewers.
    I do not understand why not. At the end of the day, it is their choice what they do.
    Cheers Diane Papac

  • suelinn

    enough with the VANITY!! The “STUFF” in hair dyes can KILL!! We should be bombarding the company’s who make this stuff to get it off the market!! I’ve just had a SEVERE REACTION, Dr. said if i would use it again(who know what it’s in)the reaction could be deadly!! I was almost in anaphylactic shock!! Our daughters,granddaughters,sons,etc. are using this stuff at alarming rates! We are being poisoned people,WAKE UP!!

  • Jan Modric

    Deaths from hair dye allergies are extremely rare.However,a person who already has any type of allergy should avoid hair dyes.

  • debbie

    I would really like to know what the product is that Diane has been using for two years. I am not ready to go grey but dont want my hair turning orange or red from Henna. Please let us know what this product is. Thanks Debbie

  • diane

    To Debbie
    I have forwarded my information to Jan previously, however for some reason she will not post my earlier comment. Lets hope she will change her mind. I will watch for it.
    Cheers Diane

  • Debbie

    To Diane
    Yes I really hope Jan changes her mind because my roots are beginning to show, and I hate it. I’m naturally a brunette and that’s the way I want to stay for at least another ten years. I hate having this allergy and don’t know what to use. Some woman may be happy to go grey but I’m not one of them, I guess if I was blond it would’nt be such a big deal!
    It is really knocking my confidence and makes me feel very depressed!Debbie

  • Jan Modric

    To all.

    I’m he, not she. 🙂 It’s pronounced “Yan”. I do not intend to convert this health article into cosmetic article.

  • Debbie

    Hi Yan, sorry for the gender mix up and name. Yes I agree it is a serious health issue but maybe you don’t realise how greying hair is a big issue for some women and that in its self becomes a major health issue when it causes stress and depression. If possible could you pass on my e-mail address to Diane. Thanks Debbie

  • diane

    To all, I would be happy for any ladies in distress be given my email, otherwise let your ‘fingers do the walking’
    Yan, what are you really here for then, to tell US females to go gray naturally….

  • katxx

    I began to use hair dya about 5 years ago, the first time i developed a reaction was when i used a dark brown hair dye, loreal preference. since then i had a massive allergic reaction, and had to be reffered to a dermatogolist, and i was diagnosed with psoriasis, is it possible that this could be linked? the reason i ask is i do still go to the hairdressers and have my hair done in foils, the dye never goes near my scalp. but i do notice that every couple of months i do seem to keep breaking out and getting patches of psoriasis everywhere! and do henna dyes work or are they also harmful to use?

    thank you 🙂

  • Jan Modric

    To katxx.
    Psoriasis is a genetic condition, but particular psoriatic rash may be aggravated by allergies. Psoriasis may also (only in some people) cause photosensitivity – area with psoriasis, when exposed to the sun, may react with a rash resembling sunburn.

    In your case, psoriasis was maybe kind of silent, or mild, and dermatologist discovered it “accidentally”. It’s not that hair dyeas would actually cause psoriasis.

    Henna was mentioned in some of above comments…

  • Jan Modric

    I have to correct myself, it’s *pronounced Yan, but *spelled Jan.

    To Debbie and Diane:

    I had my first gray hair in elementary school, and it gives me some old look, but they still give me 10 years less, as I have. I cannot fool myself with dying hair and feel young from that. It’s activity, hope…that makes you live, not just one covering up there.

    My mother was dying hair for 20 years, then she just decided to go with her natural – well, grey, and it was just OK.

    I’m a man, and won’t try to convince anyone how grey is something great. But I have never liked any additional colors on a woman’s head.

    The problem is not if you look “mature”, the problem is, if you look sick, and this appearance comes from the face, eyes…

    Women often spend so much time to adjust their appearance. C’mon, not all of us are fools, how can a hair dye really convince someone serious.

    I do hear about this depression…it’s because a woman thinks all her beauty and attractiveness is in her hair color, and without it – she doesn’t mean anything to anyone?? Why some women want to attract everyone? What do we men really have from this attractiveness?? What did you really lost, after you stopped coloring hair – write it many friends have you lost?

    A woman, attractive from some superficial covering, and nothing behind, only brings disappointment, and depression to – man.

    Hair dye allergy is opportunity to discover other worthy things that you have.

  • diane

    To Katxx,
    Psoriasis is a similar look & feel to my hair color allergy. The itching & the flaking look of the scalp, it could well be the dye allergy.
    The henna product gives me no such problems.
    PPD has been banned in most european countries, we are behind once again in being told the truth about these products.

  • diane

    OOPS….hit the wrong button

    As I said in a previous post, I could not get any confirmation for the hair industry, the colour consultants tried to fog it off, fear of being sued for damages possibly. During my experience it was said to me….”never seen or heard of this reaction before before”
    My GP was at a loss, the pharmacist only had different creams for me to try.
    So I went to the net…..when you see & read other stories & pictures of swelling scalps & faces you know 98% what the problem is & take steps to find the right product.
    Keep searching, me on hot.

  • karen2

    I was recently tested positive for ppd allergy. I have been highlighting my hair for 30 years using foil method but came down with the usual symptoms severe swolling, redness, itching and burning on face, eyes and neck (but not the scalp?) 4 months after my last highlighting procedure. This seems like an extremely delayed reaction and not likely to be the cause of my symptoms although my doctor is convinced this is the problem and says the dye is still in my hair. Based upon what I have read, it would appear that any reaction to ppd is caused only when ppd is not fully oxidized. Wouldn’t 4 months time be enough to fully oxidize the dye? Does anyone have information on this question? I have gone from steroids to cyclosporine immunosuppressant drugs to combat my symptoms. This has lasted 4 months. My doctor would like me to stay on cyclosporine until my hair grows out (or shave my head!). Has anyone heard anything like this?

  • Debbie

    Hi Jan
    You clearly do not understand just because you prefer woman to have their natural hair colour does’nt mean we all have to agree. All some of us want is to know a safe hair colour/dye without the ppd.
    I have been married nearly 27 years and I don’t want to attract any other male but I want to look my best for my own self confidence. All I want is the free will to choose how I should live my life with out added stress so please pass my details to Diane.


    iam babbi i have been using revlon hair color but last month i got a reaction from that. i have a very itching scalp and also behind my ears.
    please advise me what i should do

  • Jan Modric

    I’m not about assist anyone in obtaining hair dyes. Topic closed.

  • Jan Modric

    allergologist may examine you, and make appropriate tests to determine what exactly has caused reaction.

    It’s not always PPD, or there can be some additional substance beside PPD you might be allergic to, so I recommend you get tested to avoid future incidents, especially because it seems you have prolonged reaction.

    If it is allergy, you can expect to get appropriate prescribed medications.

  • diane

    To Jan & those conerned
    I do not mean to be disrespectful to this site however to date you have allowed these brand names to be printed in the above texts… All with PPD additive or maybe not.
    You also state on sept 29 2008, that you were unaware of any permanent hair dye without PPD, or that it even exists.

    What happened to freedom of speech!
    Possibly the Today Tonight Show, The Morning Show, or similar shows would love to see these texts & put an end to our misery & suffering

    Edit: Hair product brands in comments under this article will not be published.

  • Jan Modric

    To all.

    I decided to not publish any brand name of any hair product in comments.

  • Debbie

    I was full of hope after finding this site, and thought I had found some where that could help. Having a bad reaction to hair dye has ruined my carefree life. Jan is unwilling to help and my GP is unknowledgeable in this field I’m at a loss and will not be commenting again!

  • diane

    You edited my last comment!!
    When did the rules change, see other articles above naming brands.
    I agree with Debbie, this site is of no help. Even though I have found a good safe product, I am SO frustrated & disappointed JUST TRYING TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCE.


  • lorraine54

    i agree, its about time to go elsewhere. why are we not able to identify with some products that may help yet can name those we know dont help. i thought this site was to help each other, what happened to freedom of speech, the right to share information. what do you have against other products. just look at the number of women searching for answers.

  • Jan Modric

    I’ve removed all brand names of all hair products in all comments.

    I want discussion focuses on identifying substances causing hair dye allergies, and symptoms, what may help others to identify the cause of their symptoms.

  • lorraine54

    we have identified the symptoms and substances now lets identify what may help. whats an alternative hair colour that wont cause the symptoms which have the substances that cause them.

  • Alicia

    Fasinating to read all this information & comments from here in Europe. Some countries here have banned PPD but not all. I wanted to ask about the safety of highlighting/lowlighting? i know the dyes don’t come into contact with the scalp so are they generally safer? For what it’s worth I don’t think any branded product should be promoted on a site which is dealing with severe allergic reactions -the responsibility if something went wrong is just too great to take on. Alicia

  • brid

    Dear Jan,
    I can only admire your stance in not allowing Dianne to mention the product that has worked for her.
    As a fellow sufferer I read most of your blog in the vain hope of finding a safe alternative.I am already aware that I have to be very carefull how I prececde and frustrated that I cannot access the results of others experiments.
    I have no objection to Dianne having my e-mail address (thats if she is still in touch)Woman wouldnot but themselves thro this experience if they had a safer alternative, most of which are more time consuming and labour intensitive.Concluding in the woman deciding in her own time to embrace her grey with confidence.

  • Jan Modric

    brid, I simply decided not to promote any brand names here.

  • Tony G

    I tried a hair dye recently in an effort to remove greys from my moustache and beard. Within 12 hours I was itching and swelling had begun. After 24 hours I was not able to recognize my own face. I panicked. Pharmacist gave me dph and a creme. It took 3 days before the swelling reduced a little. Scabbing and weeping of skin is still a reality today 6 days after. I am on Benadryl now. I will continue to use black mascara. No more dyes!!! It was a scary experience!!! Do you think there is paermanent damage? Under the neck is still a little swollen along with chin side of face.

  • Jan Modric

    it’s not likely there is any permanent damage. If swelling or other changes won’t go away in next few days, you might want to visit a doctor who can give you corticosteroids or whatever he will find appropriate.

  • diane

    So Jan,
    If you don’t promote brands why is there …*edit… at the head of the article?

    OH they must be paying for the privilege.

    Cheers Diane

  • Jan Modric

    Diane, I’m not the owner, nor admin of this site. Adds on the top are from Google Adsense, and are placed there automatically according to article content. Also, not the same ads are there all the time, and readers from different countries see different ads. I from my place don’t see one, you’ve mentioned.

  • lucienne


    two days ago i just dyed my hair. my head is burning and very itchy. What i am worried about is that my palms and my feed also started to itch. does this mean its in my blood stream. if so what can i do?


  • Jan Modric

    Lucienne, it sounds like you have a strong allergic reaction. If yau’ve taken antihistamine pill, and it didn’t help, and if symptoms are getting worse, you should see a doctor that may prescribe you appropriate meds.

  • Alicia

    Alicia here again. I am a little confused about PPD. My question is do normal highlights/lowlights contain PPD? Does the fact that people are getting facial/eye reactions for a long time after colouring their hair mean that the dye is in some way unstable? I would appreciate if you could explain this for me. Thanks Alicia

  • Jan Modric

    higlights/lowlights usually don’t contain PPD.

    PPD should be clearly noted on any hair product. So, read the labels, or ask hair-dresser.

    Having symptoms after a long time may be due to:
    – PPD has actually to touch your skin to cause symptoms; amount of the PPD-containing dye that touches your skin may also be important
    – You may become sensitive to PPD at any time – not all allergies appear at the first contact with an allergen.

  • Alicia

    Thanks for that. Hair-colours that wash -out would then be a problem if they contain PPD because they would be coming into contact with the scalp/eyes etc each time you wash? Also you mentioned Black henna might contain PPD, do you think brown henna as sold in a reputable outletis ok? I don’t care too much about the ever-increasing grey’s but I miss shiny hair! Alicia

  • Jan Modric

    if a hair dye (any brand, or type) contains PPD, it may cause allergy, regardless of its form, or amount. It depends on how someone is sensitive to PPD. Someone can get reaction at first dying, and someone can get it several weeks after dying, so it’s not only fresh dying, or hair washing that are critical, because hair touch the skin all the time in most cases.

    Black or brown henna is not natural henna. Now there are various ways how to make natural henna black – one is with the help of PPD.

    Internet is full of warnings against black henna.

    The only way to be sure is to make a sensitivity test. FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), as I understand, does not require that exact ingredients are listed on labels in all cases…Outside US, rules go country by country…

  • diane

    Again….I use a henna product with no PPD…brown & mahogany. This covers my gray hair for 4-5 weeks to an acceptable level…but who cares…….seems He doesn’t want to share. It seems it all needs to remain a mystery

  • Jan Modric

    Brown henna is probably not natural henna, it has to have some added color in it, containing PPD or not.

    Persons with allergy to PPD are often allergic to other substances found in hair dyes.

  • Marro

    Wow, I have to agree with Diane. I am in shock to see so many suffers looking for advice, yet you are unwilling to help find a solution… What advice I have seen you give is a lot of medical advice and topical solutions. That is great if you are in that field…I too suffer from reactions to hair dyes. My hairdresser 1st used a henna (from a natural store) & it was fine, I just didnt like the color choices. She then came across a product we both agree works…they used it on some cancer patients with no reactions. I dont have a brand name, but their is a product out there. She has been coloring my hair with no problems, it actually makes my hair feel great. I guess I am fortunate to find a hairdresser that cares…she was able to find a dist. that carried a product for people like us…you may want to ask your hairdresser to look into a safer product…I believe they are out there you just need to dig deep!

  • Marro

    Just an FYI to anyone looking for a solution. I just went to and found real people posting name brands of a couple of products that worked for them. Good luck to everyone…I know how frustrating and miserable this is!!!

  • Pingback: Common Food Allergies in Children and Adults - Causes, Symptoms, Testing & Cure | Current Health Articles 2009()

  • glynne

    I’m in a panic, I’m 44 & just dyed my hair for the first time in my life, I am hived everywhere, I have lumps on the back of my neck that popped up over night, I did the 48 hour test & I had no reaction, so I dyed my hair, 72 hours after the test, the test site blistered, a day to late the hives started 2 days after I dyed my hair, there on my face, eyes, neck, ears, my left arm, right hand. I have to admit I made a mess of myself doing this, I’m just learning how to do everything now at this age, I am a male to female transsexual, my question may sound stupid but I’m wondering if hair dyes are different for men then women since they do make dyes for mens facial hair, Reading all these horror stories has me questioning many things now since my eyes always itch when I apply makeup. I’ve been on estrogen hormones for a couple years now along with testosterone blockers and wonder if this has any effect too? thank you for any reply you can give

  • Jan Modric

    To glynne.

    If you had allergic reaction to hair dye, it’s not likely that any eventual hormone changes will help you.

    I can’t give you reliable answer if hormones aggravates or otherwise influence allergic response, but I don’t think that hormones made you sensitive. Sensitivity to PPD is usually inherited.

    If the dye, you used, contained PPD, you won’t be able to safely use PPD-containing hair dyes /cosmetics in the future. You may be also allergic to some other substances in hair dyes, or in foods…but testing would be needed to find out this.

  • diane

    To Marro

    Hallelujah…….color me natural

  • Alicia

    You know I didn’t plan to get involved in Diane’s constant attempts to over-ride the parameters set down by Jan, nor do I want to be seen to be on his ‘side’ either. However I think after reading Diane’s not too subtle ‘smuggled’ message, that perhaps she would be happier setting up her own site in which all the issues she wanted to raise could be aired to her hearts content! Maybe then this site could deal with allergies? Just so people don’t think I’m being partisan, perhaps Jan wouldn’t mind me asking where all his scientific information comes from! And also how he manages to make sense of it, is he a well-read layman or a doctor/scientist?
    many thanks from a European ‘eavesdropper!

  • Jan Modric

    To Alicia.

    I have medical faculty. I try to list references for most specific claims, so when you see a figure in brackets after some sentence, you can see (below the article text) where do I refer to.

  • silver46

    What great information here! I found myself coming back to this article again and again. It wasn’t until I found a site called that I realized I was having an allergic reaction to hair dye! I am currently transitioning back to silver and loving it! Maybe it is not for everyone, but, w/o the goinggraylookinggreat website I could not be doing this and may have been on my way to a more serious allergic reaction to “the dye bottle”!

  • nancytheblond

    I have a problem I haven’t seen discussed here – reaction to hair BLEACH (not dye with PPD) – as in platinum all over (it’s gorgeous, but will it kill me??!. Main ingreds are ammonium persulfate, hydrogen peroxide and others. My symptoms, which started after about 3 years of bleaching, are itchy red palms and face, stuffy nose and cough; they disappear after about 1.5 hrs. Tongue, skin, and throat are OK. Symptoms occur about 30mins after she starts applying, and ALWAYS when I have been under the very warm dryer for awhile. I suspect it’s from inhaling fumes, not a skin reaction. When she used a steamer instead of dryer – no symptoms! (Fumes are less???) Anyone heard of this? Will a skin patch test disclose the culprit if it’s an inhalation problem?? Thanks!!!

  • Jan Modric

    To nancytheblond.

    If your reaction is allergic reaction, it can be diagnosed with the skin patch test. Food and oral or intravenous medications allergies are also tested with skin tests.

    It’s possible that you’re not allergic, but you just get irritated by peroxide or ammonium persulfate or other substance in the bleach.

    Ammonium persulfate:

  • nancytheblond

    One of the papers I read online did report a non-allergic histamine reaction to ammonium persulfate, so perhaps that’s it. Thanks for the info!

  • Rudy

    What is going on with you people?. Why are you all crying in vain and trying to be a scientist and solve the problem yourself while you just bought the product and suffered for it? Report it to the authorities so this irresponsible companies be punished for the consequences they have done, asides from billions of dollars they have earned. Gosh, and they are still operating and enjoying the profit from this pitiful souls.

  • Alicia

    I guess this is a response to Rudy’s comments! Everything has the potential to create an allergic reaction in certain people, even air & water! It comes down to risk assessment in my view. If you are going for surgery you know there are risks but the statistical outcomes outweigh the negatives in many cases. With hair dye, it seems to me, if you get a reaction you have to question if the suffering/pain outweighs grey hair? The companies are producing for mass market consumption & as science discovers problems with the components used they will adapt. However the risk/outcome question remains & is up to the individual to work out. sites like this help them make informed choices- democracy at its best!

  • Jan Modric

    Hair dyes are not drugs, even not over-the-counter drugs so they don’t undergo FDA (in US) rules. Both producers and FDA are well aware of PPD…

    Allergy to clean air, and pure water doesn’t exist, the substance has to have a capacity of an allergen – an allergy triggering substance…these are usually only proteins.

  • Rudy

    GOSH,,, It seems somebody is harboring adoptability of trial and error. I am talking about the pain and sufferings here and even doctors have difficulty countering the effect. And you say FDA are well aware of ( I repeat) the PAIN AND SUFFERINGS of those people, and also the Well I rest my case and I’m sorry,

  • bernie

    Hi i put my own colour on last Wednesday and everything was fine until i woke up the next morning and my eye lids were swollen and watering…. also two days later i had such a headache and my heart seemed to be racing it is now a week later and they are still swollen worse when i wake up i the mornng and my neck and shoulders ache…. i have used this same product for about two years.. i went to the doctor yesterday and i mentioned the hair colour and he said forget about the hair colour and just gave me eye drops …. do you think i could be allergic to this colour

  • Jan Modric

    To bernie.

    It’s possible. You can develop hair allergy to a certain hair dye after any time of its use. Also think if you have used any additional substance other than usually. You can take an antihistaminic pill like Benadryl. Honestly, it would be fine to visit an allergologist since you’ve obviously have some systemic reaction. You should also have an appropriate test – take hair dye and other cosmetics you’ve eventually used with you.

  • 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.


  • 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, 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

    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.



  • archie7


  • 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

  • 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.


  • Jan Modric


    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 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?

  • 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


    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.

  • 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


    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 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


    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


    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


    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


  • Divya Jetley

    I just got my hair coloured 2 days ack 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

    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 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


    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.


  • Jan Modric


    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.
    Good luck with getting rid of this stuff. I am still having itching attacks and some other symptoms that may be related.

  • Jan Modric


    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


    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.

    – 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.

  • Megg ;)

    urghh some one please help.
    i had a permanent hair dye test and i reacted to that, so the women said try the semi permanent and that was fine, but then i had my hair dyed last sat, and on sat night my test started to itch and get red. and then on monday (i think) my head around my hair line and my ears started to become dead red and itchy, im really scared some one please help 🙁

  • Jan Modric


    obviously you are allergic to this new dye also. If symptoms continue to worsen, you should see a doctor to get appropriate anti-allergic medications. Antihistamine pills can help a bit.

  • Pingback: Human Immune System | Current Health Articles 2009()

  • Hayley

    This makes a lot of sense to me. Only over the past 7 years I have been developing allergies to a number of things. It started out with a reaction to black and brown hair dyes, with itching and weeping of masses of the tiniest blisters anywhere that had been exposed to the dye {behind the ears, forehead, scalp}, over the years, this reaction has become a lot worse and I now get large lumps on my head and swollen glands from dyeing my hair, even if blonde highlights are treated with a caramel toner!!! I also have contact dermatitis from cheap costume jewellery metal, real gold, some detergents, clay, nickel {jeans buttons KILL me!!!}
    Is there any hair colouring I can use safely? As I am beginning to get a few greys and would like to not have to live with them!!!

  • Jan Modric


    you would need to have tests performed by allergologist to know which exact substances in hair dyes (besides PPD) you are allergic to.

  • norapatricia

    I am 42 and have been colouring my roots only, for about 10 years with the same brand. I only mixed enough to colour my roots black and once and a while I used to get an overall colouring. The last 3 times I colour them (about 1 month apart) I got terrible pains in my lower abdomen while I had the colour mixture on my hair and was waiting the 20 min. The pain lasted for about 2 hours even after I washed my hair. I felt like if I was having a baby (I had contraction type pains) or like if I was horribly constipated. I thought I was going to die. I went to my Dr. and she order several tests checking ovaries, pap smear and everything. Thank goodness I am completely healthy. It dawn on me that, it was a very big coincidence that the 3 times this happened I had the wet hair colour mixture on my hair. I have no doubt I became terribly allergic to something in the hair colour and I am not colouring it again. The Dr. said the next time I may not make it out of the bathroom. I loved having my black hair with no grey and looking my age, but it is not worth it. If people don’t like my grey hair, I don’t care. My husband and my son rather I’m alive.

  • Jan Modric


    it would be a great info, if you can provide the whole list of ingredients in the dye used. One of common dyes used in cosmetics and food and causing allergies is “red dye #40” also called “FD&C”.

  • norapatricia

    Hi Jan,
    I tried to find the ingredients on the box and on their website but couldn’t find them. I am searching in the internet now. I will call their help desk tomorrow. Thanks.

  • megg

    hey people, my rash thingy is clearing!! woooooo lets hope it clears completly 🙂 (let’s hope i havent jinxed myself now :/ ) that would not be good 🙂 thanks for your help peopl.

  • norapatricia

    Hi Jan, here is the ingredient list but I don’t think it contains the common dyes used in cosmetics and food which cause allergies like you mentioned.
    Water. Hexylene Glycol. Popylene Glycol. Isopropyl Alcohol. Ethanolamine. Ethoxydiglicol. Soytrimonium Chloride. P-Phenylenediamine. Oleth 5. Oleic Acid. N,N-Bis(2-Hydroxyethyl)-P- Phenylenediamine Sulfate. Oleth-2. Resorcinol. Amonium Hydroxide. M-Aminophenol. Cocamidopropyl Betaine. C11-15 Pareth-9. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. Citric Acid. C12-15 Pareth-3. Fragance. Erythorbic Acid. Edta. Sodium Sulfite. Developing Lotion Ingredients: Water. Hydrogen Peroxide. Acrylates Copolymer. Steareth-21. Oleth-2. Peg-50 Hydrogenated Palmaimide. Oleth-5. Acrylates/Steareth-20 Metacrylate Copolymer. Oleyl Alcohol. Etidronic Acid. Disodium Edta. Simethicone.

  • shan6494

    I have been allergic to permanent hair dye for the last 3 years and I must inform, it does not improve. Every subsequent dye you receive, your reaction will become worse. EDIT: We don’t publish brand names.

  • Hayley

    Jan, thanks for your response ~ So it would be likely that there is more to it than merely the PPD? I have began to take my reactions more seriously {I used to just keep on dyeing, wearing jewellery, using detergents etc. until the glands began to react and my skin started peeling!!}, is it likely these types of reactions can cause more serious side effects if I were to continue using such products? We have no local allergy specialists, and it would mean an interstate journey to see one, but I am willing to see one if the reaction could become more serious in the future… would rather not risk it!

  • Jan Modric


    you’ve mentioned hair dyes, jewellerly, detergents, buttons…so it seems you’re allergic to more than one substance.

    From practical viewpoint – you simply avoid what irritates you. I can assure you from my experience and from others, that when you are considering to stop using or taking something (food, habit, anything) it may look “impossible” on the beginning. But if you clearly see the connection between one thing and its harmful effect, wouldn’t the easy way be to just stop using it?

    If you decide for allergy testing, take all exact products, jewellerly…that ever irritated you with you. Also consider that results from skin patch tests may be evaluated only after 3 days (in any case get this info by phone before testing). You may also want to have tests for food allergies, even if you’re not aware of any. The types of allergies you’ve mentioned may worsen with time; reactions also depend on amount of allergens you get in contact with.

  • Hayley

    Thanks so very much Jan, I appreciate your help! Think it’s time I got checked out properly by the specialist!
    Thanks again!

  • ashly

    Yep, same thing happened to me. I used a hair dye twice before with no problem. I used it again on November 10th, the next day I woke up with hives on my neck and behind my ears. I didn’t freak out because it didn’t seem to severe but that night my scalp and ears begant to weep puss. I don’t have insurance so I tried treating it myself with Benadryll lotion, pill, and baking soda paste. That seemed to be helping but then I noticed it had spread to the inside of my elbows. On November 27th it had spread to my inner thighs and my arms will completely covered. I woke up at a friends house on November 28th and it was all over my stomache and my eyes were swollen like frog eyes, they were disgusting and huge. I was in severe pain and had to have my friend drive me to the ER where they freaked out and pumped me full of iv’s. The swelling went down and they sent me home with prescription benadryll and prednisone. This helped and it went completley away but right after I stopped taking it it all returned. I went to the walk in and they gave me more Prednisone which caused me to have severe panic attacks. It again went away but returned after I stopped taking it. I am now taking Claritan, Benadryll and Zantac. December 12th I’m back in the ER, completley rashy, miserable and swollen. I had to cut my hair super short that day because they said me touching my hair and my hair touching me was going to keep this horrible thing going. They give me more Prednisone. It is now December 14th, one month and four days since I dyed my hair and I am praying extremely hard this torture ends soon..

  • Jan Modric


    what you’ve described is a good example that a hair dye may continue to trigger allergic reaction even when it dries up.

    I can’t reliably say what exactly caused reaction on the other parts of your body. One possibility is inhaling your own hair dye or hair dye that other people use. I do not want to frighten you, but you may get an allergic reaction when visiting a hairdesser or even meet someone with a freshly dyed hair.

  • beautysmistress

    to ashly on
    I died hair back in October and still have a little swelling of inner eye lids. Anyone who gets an allergy should write to the maker of the dye. I wrote to one and was told if I got the doctor to write that the condition was from the hair dye, they would help with medical costs if My insurance didn’t. This stuff is banned in parts of Europe and should also be band in the US!!
    [partly edited]

  • Hayley

    I can not get over this horror stories… Honestly, I never took my reaction seriously until the last couple of times {I am only 29 and was freaking out about a few stray grey hairs!!} which at the time were a bigger deal to me than the reaction… not any more!!!! How scary!!!!!

  • siskeeper

    My sister dyed her hair all the time . . this last time she came home and almost immediately her face, arms, stomach, legs, everywhere started braking out. After 1 trip to the ER and IVs the rash went away and came back 2 hours later at home. This has repeated for a few days, she is now admitted to the hospital and nothing seems to be giving her any relief. . anyone ever experience anything like this? Also the rash seems to be changing forms every time it appears. first it was big welts then it was just all red all over, then it was little red bumps. . its weird. but she is in pain and I need to help . . anyone?

  • Jan Modric

    To siskeeper.

    All types of rashes seem to be various forms of allergic reaction. What you can do is to provide her doctors exact ingredients of the dye and any eventual other cosmetic product she have used.

  • lindychr

    I know you aren’t supposed to be able to mention specific brands to use or not use …… but that makes it incredibly difficult to shop for appropriate and safe products “out there”.

    • Jan Modric

      To lindychr.

      If some hair dyes are harmful, it still doesn’t mean you need to use some other one.

  • beautysmistress

    If you look at an MSDS sheet on PPD you will never want to use any product again that contains even small amounts!

  • Pat Hill

    Have been itching and burning for 2 weeks from dye. Mainly at night. What can I do besides Benedryl? Can’t sleep for the itching. I also tried a medicated shampoo. Will it itch until it grows out?

    • Jan Modric

      Pat Hill,

      two weeks is a bit long, so I suggest you to get checked if this is caused by PPD allergy or something other. If it is allergy, prescribed steroid cream may help you. Do NOT use steroid cream by yourself, since it can irreversibly thin the skin.

  • julie

    i got swallen eyes itchy ness tinkling in tung and lip bad sneezers red face dyed hair fir a while with dye all of sudden reaction been giving cream for both eyes also got sores in head and back off neck fells terrible

    • Jan Modric


      this may happen again with the same severity, even accidentally, like when you touch or even smell a hair dye from someones freshly dyed hair. I suggest you to discuss with your doctor, which drugs you can use to protect yourself in such cases.

  • C8tlin20

    i had someone dye my hair for me in a salon and had it done red but she bleatched some of it blond. after that my head stared to get really itchey and swell some and get flaky. about 4-5 month after i dye my hair a diffrent color and had it done a lighter brown then what i had and have it bleatched bolond under it and the back of my head swelled up and was itchy and hurt for like a week after it was done.

    now i really want to try dyeing it blond and i dont no what to do so could u help me out

    • Jan Modric

      To C8tlin20.

      I suggest you to visit an allergologist, who can determine which exact substances you are allergic to.

  • bernadette

    Hi there
    Surfing the web looking for allergic reactions to hair dye and came across you. Boy am I delighted – no one seems to care about this.

    For approx. 10 years I was dying my hair black with no reaction apart from an itchy scalp from time to time which I started to scratch and “pick”. Bad idea!! It resulted in the skin on my scalp being broken and the next time I dyed my hair I immediately started to go red all over my body and become extremely itchy. I rushed to the shower to wash it off and proceeded to vomit and have severe diahorea – I was a sight to behold – Black hair dye streaming all over my face and body, red blotches all over my body, vomit all over the shower and me, and of course “s++t” pouring down my legs!!!
    After washing it all off – I proceeded to shake from head to foot and was extremely frightened. I rang my doctor and he just said nonchantly “Take an antihistimene” I managed to get one from a neighbour and after a while the symptoms subsided. I was loathe to use the same product again and tried a different manufacturer – which worked. Used this product for about 5 years until they took it off the market and decided to go back to the original Manufacturer (different product). Wow!! same thing again – and again very very frightening. Again took the antihistimene and again the symptoms subsided except for a very bad rash on my neck which lasted for approx. 6 weeks. I have now found another product (after doing some patch tests) that works for me – but I always take an antihistimene before I use the dye.
    I used it about 5 days ago and I notice I have a bit of a rash on my neck – not much but irritating!!
    What I want to know is – how come I have never had a reaction when the hairdresser does my hair – Do the products that you buy over the counter have something in them that is not in the product that the hairdresser uses??

    Oh the sin of vanity how I often abuse thee!! Jez I’m 61 now (don’t look it) and I still want to dye my hair – ah sure isn’t it our “crowning glory”

    • Jan Modric


      allergic reaction appears when a sensitive person gets sensitized. Sensitization may occur after a certain amount of the triggering substanse (allergen) touches your skin, or after repeated exposure of that substance, or, as possibly in your case, a substance enters deep into the skin. Besides that, certain other substances could trigger sensitivity for a certain substance in a hair dye (cross reactivity).

  • Laura

    I dyed my hair just after new years, 3 days latter broke out in a small rash, 3 days after that it was every where, my eyes my legs my scalp 4 days off work and my legs were still burnt up until last week my hair is starting to fall out. The docs gave me something for my skin, but cold tar isnt working for my scalp its dry and itchy. I have to wait 3 more weeks untill i can visit the derimotglist.

    • Jan Modric


      have you tried Benadryl or other antihistamine medication? Avoid hot shower and do not use hair drier until symptoms go away.

  • eif

    I’ve been dying my hair for many years now. I’d begun to dye it black six years ago and had it that way for about 5 years. Recently, I went to my salon, and the owner suggested a vegetable dye. I’ve never ever used a permanent hair color always a level 2, washes out – or supposed to after 28 shampoos. I’d shampoo once maybe twice and the grays were already showing. So, I tried the vegetable dye. The next month I went back to re-apply and noticed when I got home the itching burning on my scalp. I wasn’t sure so waited the following month and told my hairdresser – she told me perhaps it was the dye so re-applied. This time not only did my scalp itch and burn… The following evening one of my feet began to itch and burn. The following day my hands began to itch horribly and welts began to form. The following day my entire body began to itch it certain places – would shift from my arms to my chest to my face to legs etc…
    I thought a vegetable dye was less harmful? I took benadryl for close to a month since I wasn’t sure if the rash had been because I’d been on antibiotics a month prior due to dental work I had done. I now know for a fact it is the hair dye and hate gray hair. How or what products will cover gray without harsh chemicals. I tried henna a few years ago and that did nothing to hide the grays. Help.

    • Jan Modric

      To eif.

      I do not give instructions about hair dyes.

  • Sheril

    I used a very popular hair dye for years and the formula changed as they so often do but the culprit is PPD. I had a $15,000 to improve my appearance 6 months ago. The previous two months as I colored my hair I noticed a rash with no known cause — as I continued to color the rash got worse with open weeping sores on ears that were swollen and red. The rash, the itching, and the swelling on my head/neck got worse. I had no idea it was from hair color. I went to 3 doctors for advice and got cream and antibiotics; it still got worse and then was put on prednisone I did some CSI of my own and found out it must be the hair dye. I called the company and was told that I had to stop coloring, there was nothing I could do, the condition is permanent and can be fatal, AND not only that but that any products that are associated with PPD’s like shampoos, soaps, conditioners, makeup, etc. will also cause problems. I have no idea how to live with gray hair! This is a difficult blow to self esteem, it is also expensive, and very time consuming to find products that will tolerate this condition. These products are advertised and sold to unsuspecting consumers that do not know how close they come to death and disability because of these products.

  • Dear Jan,
    I haven’t seen the problem that I’m looking for.The last time I got my hair dyed(at a discount chain)the stylist told me she was using 10% instead of 20%.A few weeks later, my tongue turned orange brown and my tongue and mouth itched a lot. I went to my dentist who told me that wasn’t an allergic reaction, it was staining from something I had been eating and that I had a Vitamin B deficiency. I have been taking the vitamin daily. Itching had stopped now started again. Tongue now tan. Hair dye was a red brown. Dark dyes seem to cause more problems. Why? Have you heard of this staining from dye? I drink coffee and tea but always have, never a problem before.

    • Jan Modric


      were other vitamins (A, B12, D, E, K) and minerals (iron) also checked? Was your tounge colored, before you’ve start to take any vitamins or other drugs? The color on the tounge could be from vitamin deficiency or from vitamin supplements or other drugs (?) or food or drink, and is not likely from an allergy to a hair dye or any other allergy. However, the mouth itch could be from an allergy, but not likely directly from a hair dye allergy. Theoretically it would be possible that a hair dye made you sensitive for some substance in some food or drink or supplement…I recommend you to ask your stylist, which exact dye she used, did it contain PPD, and if she can make a test on your skin before dying your hair again. A hair dye usually triggers an allergic reaction only after its second or succeding use. I also recommend you to have more blod tests for vitamins and minerals, if necessary. You can also have tests for food and color dye allergies performed by an allergologist.

  • farhan

    I am using hair dye for last 20 years but for the last few years whenever i apply it i feel itching all over my body and eye redness. Last time i used it and felt some difficulty in breathing. i have psyrosis on my scalp also. suggest some solution as i cant do without hairdye.

    • Jan Modric


      first I suggest you to visit an allergologist and get tested for PPD allergy and eventual other allergies. Then you will know, what you need to avoid.

  • anna

    I’ve been lightening my hair for many years now and rescently got allergic by getting itchy, redness on the hands, inner thighs, stomach area, was feeling very uncomfortable, and got bronchitis as a result which cleared up now. The last 2 times were the worse so I got really worried. Had a patch test done and found out that the Ammonium Persulfate (bleach) is what causes the allergy so I would really like to know if there is anything that can lighten the hair without containing this, as Im so used to my hair being blonde. Is there another way?

    • janmodric


      since we are a health site, we do not offer cosmetic-related advices.

  • melissa

    I started to go grey at 19. Ive been dying my hair for 13 years but a few years ago I noticed my head started to burn when the dye was applied and afterwards large handfuls of hair would fall out and my head would itch terribly. I used to have thick hair but now its very thin and still continues to fall out, it also seems to have stopped growing. Im thinking about trying henna.

    • Jan Modric


      I recommend you to visit a dermatologist, since there may be other reasons for hair thining and falling out.

  • Hair1

    I have had my hair done just for the loose gryes and to uplift the blahs, but my body reacted differently this time and I swelled everywhere, I took benedrylls and washed my hair again and changed clothing and tried to rest. Althought the swelling has gone down with the Benedrylls, I still feel short of breath.
    Did I do okay?, I am continuing the benedrylls for a few days and supplement Vitamins with it.

    • Jan Modric


      this was quite strong reaction, which may last for few next days. I recommend you to visit an allergologist, who can make tests to determine which substance you are allergic to. Besides Benadryl there are some other over-the-counter antihistamines, that do not make you drowsy. Vitamins do not do much in hair dye allergy.

  • KEVIN S.

    It was amazing to me that I could use the product once with excellant results while the second time I used it I woke up felling like my head had just been napalmed, unbelieveable!

    Where are the class action law suits for this product, which the manufacturers know is causing serious injury at best and/or death at its worse.

  • beautysmistress

    There is a group on Facebook trying to get some of the chemicals banned. Like in several European countries. I believe with all the warnings on the labels it would be difficult to bring a class action suit although PPD is listed as carcinogenic on its MSD sheet.

  • DJA


    I’ve colored my hair for several years. About 2 years ago, I developed what seemed to be excess dander with mild to moderate itching of the scalp (especially the back). Within a year, this turned into rashes, blisters on the fingers, feet, scalp, phantom itching all over the body, swollen ears, glands, lymph nodes, etc. I looked like a Cling-on out of Star Trek. Several trips to the DR (2 were emergency visits) and finally the Dermatologist said the most likely cause was PPD allergic reaction. I finally got a concentrated corticosteroid injection and it didn’t help one bit. I can’t tell you how many layers of skin on my fingers and scalp I have shed on a weekly basis. I’ve lost hair, but it has started to re-grow. How can I take care of these symptoms before I permanently (no pun) go crazy? These severe symptoms have been going on for about a year. Thanks.

    • Jan Modric


      enlarged lymph nodes and blisters on the feet are not typical symptoms of PPD allergy. Have you been tested for PPD? Even if you are allergic to PPD, there’s probably something other causing your symptoms. I recommend you to ask your doctor to perform some basic blood tests (including white blood cells), since it’s possible you have a chronic infection or some other systemic disease.

  • DJA

    Thanks. The mystery continues. I have to follow the protocol that my provider advises. I called and made an appt for another visit to my dermatologist for allergy testing. Then, we’ll see what that shows and possibly go for blood work.

  • DJA


    One more question: if this is an allergic reaction from PPD, will it go away as my hair gradually loses its color? thanks.

    • Jan Modric


      yes, it should. Do not use antihistamine pills or steroids before testing.

  • DJA

    Okay, thanks!

  • DJA

    Interestingly, my Derm’s secretary called me up to go over my symptoms again and asked what the Derm had said he though it was. When I told her PPD, she told me that her co-worker just called in sick – she had colored her hair a couple of days ago and had the usual symptoms; hives, rashing, swelling. Remember that even the products that say that they are natural or chemical free are usually bogus claims.

    Alternative names for paraphenylenediamine

    * PPD or PPDA
    * Phenylenediamine base
    * p-Phenylenediamine
    * 4-Phenylenediamine
    * 1,4-Phenylenediamine
    * 4-Benzenediamine
    * 1,4-Benzenediamine
    * para-Diaminobenzene (p-Diaminobenzene)
    * para-Aminoaniline (p-Aminoaniline)
    * Orsin™
    * Rodol™
    * Ursol™

  • I color my hair blond and never had any probs. I recently decided to add a dark to the underneath, big mistake, after 24 hrs the back of my head is swolen, itchy and has a horrid red rash on it. I have been taking anti histomines for 3 days now and using a steroid cream for 2 days, it doesnt seem to be getting any better.

    • Jan Modric


      it may take some time for symptoms to resolve. If symptoms become even worse, visit your doctor to prescribe you stronger meds.

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  • 110794

    I’ve been allergic to PPD ever since I had a henna tattoo done, I’ve been dying my hair since with loads of alternative hair dyes and off scalp dying too.

    EDIT: We do not publish brand names of products.

  • diane

    Jan, You are not allowing my comments to go through??

    • Jan Modric


      I publish all questions and comments that may help to solve any health problem.

  • vonasda

    i am 49 years old my last hair colouring session was 2 weeks ago i ended up in ae
    with swollen face i had to have antihistamines n steriods im very upset i have black hair n my white roots soon show plz someone tell me there is a natural colour i can use dont know how i am going to cope whitout dying my hais

    • Jan Modric


      we do not give suggestions about hair dyes.

  • Tony

    I am a man and can tell you Jan that we men also want to be able to have healthy coloured hair. There is nothing ” natural ” about greying hair. Why not live with and enjoy arthritis ? It is as ‘ natural’ as grey hair. Give us a break and let us have any answers to ;no allergy’ and nature in nice colours for hair. Tony

    • Jan Modric


      I’m also a man and I know what is grey hair. I don’t like or enjoy it, but, if you ask me, it’s not as bad as having one week of a mild common cold. Having grey hair may be a big personal problem for someone, but I do not feel the call to solve these problems.

  • BALI

    AM 50 YEARS OLD,, whenever i apply the hair colour, small red patches will be stars bobbiling up.. and they start itching.. so tell me which one i have to apply…
    if hair color is possible to prepare in home then tell me how?

    • Jan Modric


      I don’t know much about hair dyes themselves.

  • Alex

    Q: I use to dyes my hair regular basics-I never had any problem, since my wife she brought Japanese or Indian hair dye [edit: no brand names] from local store – I use that since than I can’t use any more color to cover it up my Grey hair I’m just 29 Y/O and working with the Airlines-

    I have find out after using the color on night than next day morning my skin start breaking up itch and yellowish Blood come out from the skin.Than I wen to the doctor The have give me the medicine called [ Methylperdinsolone ] 4mg 21 Tab RX only it stop the rash and itch but leave some mark on my forehead for a month -is there any color out there that I can use that not gonna give me any more trouble , please help me If you could

    • Jan Modric


      I do not give advices about use od hair dyes.

  • Mindee

    I have been dying my hair and highlighting for over 20 years. Two months ago had them both done together and my scalp was burning during procedure. Thought I was just sensitive because I had washed my hair right before my appointment. After my stylist washed the color out, I left feeling good. This time I colored only(2 days ago) and my scalp started burning. About three hours later – my forehead was itching. Washed my hair 2x about three hours after that. Woke up the next morning with burning scalp sensation and itchy forehead. Washed my hair 2x more. Took a benadryl which helped a bit. Today (day 2) less itching on forehead, scalp still burning and a little on the neck. I experienced no swelling, no redness, no blisters so far, just burning sensation and itching. Am I over the hump, or will this continue to get worse?

    • Jan Modric


      it looks like symptoms will now fade away. Next time it may be worse.

  • urara

    Dear Jan.
    I would like to know that is it possible
    even having reaction with hair dye but NO any sign of reaction is shown scalp?
    coulbe be possible that sign of reaction is just scalp pain? my scalp got so pain after 5 days from hair dye. around 3 days front of head start pain so I did use jojoba oil and coconuts oil.
    then my scalp start burning and very pain.
    I went to see Dr and Dr told me no any sign of reaction on my scalp. but my scalp was so pain.
    DR gace to me strong corticosteroid lotion.
    I did apply it 2 times a day for a week.
    now my pain is gone. also itchyness which I always had in the past 10 yeas is gone.
    I wonder if I got scalp pain from dye or the oil’s.
    thank you very much for read my question.

    • Jan Modric


      hair dye allergy can be present without any rash, just like food allergy, for example, where rash may appear or not. I’m not sure if the pain was a symptom of allergy though. Other reactions to hair dye allergies are possible, like migraine. Burning was probably triggered by oils, but ten years of itchiness speaks for some underlying disorder, like seborrheic dermatitis. A dermatologist could say more.

  • urara

    thank you very much for your responce.
    YES!!! I have very mild seborrheric dermatitis on my face.
    so it’s could be it. I saw 2 Dr and neither of them couldn’t tell what’s cause it. thanks so much again.

  • Mindee

    Dear Jan,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Also wanted to know if you’ve heard of any allergic reactions to those moroccan hair oils. Not sure if the brands differ. Anyhow, about three years ago, my stylist put some of that on my hair. I left and within 45 minutes was in the shower because my scalp was burning. I had to wash it about three times before it came out.

    Now, three years later I go to get base color (after 12 years of no incident) and after she rinses me, she starts to pour that oil into her hands, to which I reply, “heck no! get that stuff away from me!” So, she pours it back in the bottle, wipes her hands on her apron and puts mousse on her hands, then my hair.

    So, I guess my question is… is it possible that the trace amount of moroccan oils could cause this itching, instead of the dye? I’m just trying to figure out if I can dye my hair again or not. I will certainly never get anywhere near the oil, but I’d hate to stop dying my horribly boring brown hair for no reason. Would a patch test do anything for me now. Don’t really know how to proceed.

    • Jan Modric


      a patch test can confirm an allergy to the oil, PPD from hair dyes and other common substances. Yes, trace amounts of oil can trigger an allergic reaction.

  • Dall

    I have a possible allergy to hair dyes, but sadly as my Nhs consultant seems to think patch testing unimportant i have been advised to avoid them just in case. I do understand the push here to grow old gracefully and admire that, however as a mental health care worker I am very aware of how appearence can lead to depression. It’s simply not something you can dismiss as vanity.

    People are individuals and should not feel judged for having a need to boost self esteme by looking how they would wish to. Personally I would like to find a product that will cover my grey even though it’s not the be all and end all, it would simply be a nice treat.

    I think the psychology of going grey is very different for women and even within groups of women the importance to self esteme varies.

    I respect this is your thread Jan and so am not suggesting you change your rules or values. I would suggest you put a statement at the start of your forum however to save those looking for a product from wasting time reading the thread.

    • Jan Modric


      I put a note in the article now.

  • gypsychick

    i have used hair die about 8 times in my life 6 times **** the colors were black,blond,brown,2 burgendys,and a lighter red. then 2 ****, blue blacks. i have never gotten a alergic reaction with **** but with **** i have both times after using the lor’eal 2 times (not all in same timing) i used a **** then got an alergic reaction. then i dyed my hair again with **** (later in time) 4 more times no alergic reaction then used a **** 3 days ago and got the same alergic reaction again! my scalp was itching along with any other part of my body that the hair dye had touched even as washin it off. but mostly my face neck scalp and ears badly . then i started to swell and i started to brake out , and got huge painful balls behind my ears all from ****…

    EDITED: Brand names removed

    • Jan Modric


      obviously there is something (PPD or other substance) in the hair dye that irritates you. You might want to have allergic tests done to know what exactly you are allergic to.

  • Katie

    I Dyed my hair at least 6 times before my allergies occured. The day after i dye my hair my scalp starts to burn and its .. the back of my neck and behind my ears also breaks out in a rash and what looks like water comes out of it. I got an allergy tratment to mix with the hair dye but it doesnt seem to work. I also tried using different brands but they all give me the same allergy

    • Jan Modric


      obviously you are allergic to the same substance, present in all hair dyes you’ve used; usually this is PPD. If so, you won’t be able to use these dyes safely.

  • mina

    Hi! Jan.
    I would like to hear your opinion.
    my top of scalp get pain,but it’s just buring sensation and hot the part everytime I dye my hair.
    however it’s only at top of my scalp.
    any other part’s is ok. I wonder why?
    is it allergic reaction?

    • Jan Modric


      a skin patch testing would answer your question, or you might want to visit a dermatologist. On the top of the scalp, hair dye comes into contact with the skin easier, so theorretically it could be allergic reaction or some other type of inflammation.

  • Kimba

    I have a definite allergy to any and all hair dye among medical dyes. I would like to know if henna (being a natural product) contains any of these chemicals, naturally. Would this be a safe alternative to the standard chemical hair dye?

    • Jan Modric


      henna as such is a natural dye, but allergy to certain substances in henna is still possible and it does occur. Can’t say how you might react to it. Henna usually does not contain PPD, but certain other substances may be added to henna in a particular hair dye product.

  • beautysmistress

    I tried a so called “organic” hair color. Lucky I now always do a skin test. Had a red patch and itching for 3 weeks on a patch the size of a dime!
    Now I use a henna on occasions that doesn’t list anything other than natural ingredients. No allergy but it doesn’t cover the grey. Just tints it a bit. Could be not getting it warm enough to process.
    Good luck finding a safe product.

  • Alex

    Natural “Hena” and with PPD so called Black Hena is two different thing – I was so surprise when I went to the South East Asian store like Bangladeshi, Indian & Pakistani store found Black Hena- But when I read it still the same contains like other Hair dye product. But Natural Hena is Green Leaf you need to blend it and make like mash potato than put on your hair with out having any trouble. Please not that natural hena never will give you the black color unless you add some coffee or tea in it .Natural hena will give you reddish color not black color tho

  • Cristina

    I have been dying my hair for 10 years and a couple of years ago developed some small crusty bumps on my scalp but continued on doing it. Three months ago, after dying my hair my scalp felt numb and some I had some swelling around my hair line. I changed to no peroxide dye but still had the same reaction. Today just after 15 min with the dye in my head I started do fell dizzy and hives started showing up all over my body, immediately I washed my hair but felt dizziness, cramps, upper lip swelling and body chills. I thought that I was going to die…After some water with an antihistamine pills I started to feel a little better . All my hair is white and I cant imagine not being able to cover the grays anymore but I also don’t want to have a severe reaction and die. Does anyone tried vegetable or organic dyes? Do they work? I cant see a doctor because I am unemployed. HELP!!!!!

    • Jan Modric


      if your symptoms will worsen, go to emergency room. Without knowing which exact substance you are allergic to, nobody can recommend you a safe dye.

  • Alex

    Dear Cristina ! I’m sorry to hear that you have such a difficult time, I would like to say , If you having trouble than stop using any kind of hair dye and not use any more unless you find something suitable with your skin . I think you are women , just stay with natural HENA with out any effect

    • Jan Modric

      Henna being a natural product does not mean it cannot trigger an allergic reaction. Peanuts and wheat are also natural, but some people are allergic to them. Besides that, to henna as a product other substances can be added during manufacturing.

  • beth

    hey guys Im a professional hairdresser and have been in the emergency room because of hair dye. Been dying my hair for years, absolutley fine.. but be careful its the darker hair colours that have higher levels of ppd. It was a quick home colour i just put on mine that caused the reaction. I have been fine with the products I have had applied to my scalp in salon. I ALWAYS carry a patch test out on every new client, and clients who have not had a colour for 12 weeks+. Its a nasty situation to be in, but I would visit various salons or research different salons products. My scalp is fine with low amounts of ppd, so check which salons use colourants with low levels in, and get a patch test. One of the women that died in Birmingham used the exact same home dye I did. ALWAYS TEST YOUR SKIN! But try various colourants, because you may not have a reaction to low levels of the chemical. Unfortunatley I cant believe that I didnt skin test myself, knowing full well the dangers, and do it on every client

  • beth

    .. also a rep from l’oreal also informed me that people with tattoos can also be more adverse to hair colour reactions. Which I have

  • Theresa

    I had a skin test for 10 min. she said that’s all that was need. So I went back 4 days later and she used 20%, that was yesterday and now my head feels itchy and my head kinda feels numb. Is it going to get worse? Besides Benadryll, what else can I do? help i am scared…

    • Jan Modric


      if there were no abrupt symptoms on the start, then it is less likely you will develop severe symptoms. If severe swelling appears or you start to breath difficulty or get dizzy, ask someone to take you to the doctor, who can give you stronger medications if needed.

  • totallynotwell

    I am a hair dye addict and I’ve come to the conclusion that hair color companies finding an alternitive for PPD is like auto makers finding a replacement for oil. It’s never going to happen and if it does, it won’t work nearly as good as the original. I could only dream of being able to dye my hair again without being on suicide watch (hypothectically speaking). You risk dying your hair out of desperation in hopes that maybe it was just counter acting with something and that your not actually allergic to it, that would be crazy if you were, whose allergic to hairdye? Only to learn that I actually am allergic to hair dye, severely allergic. I am almost certain if I died my hair again, I’d probably die. I did find a semi-perm black hair dye that contains no ppd but it washes out in two days and as much as I love my hair black, I can’t go through the process every 48 hours nor can I afford to. I suppose my advice to those who have had a mild reaction or a more serious reaction, don’t die your hair again. I made the mistake of doing so and I will have scars all over my body for the rest of my life. At one point the back of my neck was an open wound of flesh and blood and my face was so swelled I looked like sloth from the goonies, only worse. I had chemical burns on my scalp, neck and ears that were so itchy and weeping with gross fluids. The allergic reaction spread to the rest of my body including my arms, my stomach, my legs, my feet. Life goes on though. It’s still hard to pass up the hair dye aisle at the store but I manage to press on with my unruly ugly natural hair color.

  • Cristina

    Totallynotwell, I feel so bad for you and for all of us. I am debating on trying to dye my hair again, after almost dying last month and after reading your post I just can’t. I know we are not supposed to give names and brands here but could you at least give us a hint on were to find this black hair dye without any PPD? I live in Seattle and haven’t found anything yet…I hope you feel better soon….

  • totallynotwell

    Christina, thanks for your response. I actually haven’t dyed my hair in probably over a year now but I still have the scars on my arms and legs from the last time I did dye it and broke out. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I would never be able to dye my hair again. I would tell you not to risk it ever again but that’s what everybody told me and I did it anyway because I was in denial and I can’t stand being allergic to something that I love so much. I am not sure how severe your allergic reaction to PPD is. You might luck out and try some other less harmful dyes that contain small amounts of PPD. There are quite a few out there, like this henna I tried using contains 3% PPD, I did an allergy test on my ear and broke out within seconds so I am severely allergic to PPD. The hair dye that I mentioned before in which I did not break out from is semi-perm that washes out in two days contains methylparaben instead of PPD. The only hint I can give without saying the brand is to go do a search and type in amplified black hair dye. They make colors like blue, green, pink, and purple. I tried it once and I did an allergy test before using it, I didn’t break out at all or have so much as an itch when using it. It seemed pretty safe for the most part. It’s kind of pricey and it sucks that it washes out so fast.

  • Cristina

    Dear tottalynotwell,
    I decided to take Jan’s advice and go see an allergologist… After calling the nurse and explaining my symptoms she said I had an anaphylactic reaction. This happened 04 weeks ago after dying my hair for 10 years.
    I feel grateful for finding this blog and to be able to share all this information with each other.. My roots just started to show up and I fell very sad and depressed, not easy to be looking for jobs in this situation…I have this long wavy beautiful brown hair and like everyone else here don’t want to give it up the salon visits…but thanks to all of your comments and suggestions I do feel a little better 🙂

  • urara

    hi! Jan. (I did post at itchy scalp page before about my scalp ploblem)
    I have a question about hair dye.
    now I am start to wondering if my scalp reacting with hair dye. I did dye just tiny bit at right side top of scalp by hair glaze which is NO contain PPD.( I did call to the company to make sure it’s no PPD) but my scalp got pain again after 4days I did use it. but the pain place is not the place which I did apply it. become pain about 2 inch away from the part. now I am wondering that if I am reacting with the black color, not PPD.
    the box has writing it’s contain Black 401 ( also red etc) which I think it’s Coal tar color. Jan, is it possible to react with the Color of dye insted of PPD?

    if I ‘d like to patch test about hair dye.dermatologist do it ?

    • Jan Modric


      yes, the color can cause allergic reaction. It is usually an allergologist who perform a patch test.

  • Jan,

    Ever since my PPD reaction, I’ve had discomfort whenever I drink wine. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s white or red. The last time I drank a glass, it felt as if my throat was closing in. Of course, all I can think of after my PPD experience is anaphylactic shock! I popped a couple Benadryls and I haven’t touched wine in over a year.

    Is it a sulfur related reaction? Is there a way I can get tested? If I can’t dye my hair, I’d at least like to drink a glass of wine! ;(

    • Jan Modric


      it is histamine that causes main symptoms in allergic reactions. Wine can increase the release of histamine in your body, but not necessary this is allergic reaction. Some foods (beefsteak, cheese, chicken liver, eggplant, spinach, tomatoes, wine) may contain histamine. However, certain wine ingrediets can trigger an allergic reaction. It is also possible that PPD has sensitized you for sulfur compounds (in wine, sulfur containing drugs…). An ellergologist may find an exact cause.

  • Ally

    Okay soo im allergic to hair dye and wanted to know if i could still dye my hair. i got the skin test and i came out positive for 3 chemicals.the doctor gave my a list of which kind of dye and color i can do. But i just wanna dye it black.

    I bought this brand called [EDIT: no brands]. its a Semi-permanent hair color. its no ammonia no peroxide color is blackest black.
    I did the skin test and it was okay but im not sure if its really safe.
    Is semi-permenet less likey to give you a allergic reaction??
    Please help.

    • Jan Modric


      your doctor, who knows which chemicals you are allergic to, can tell if these chemicals may be in the product you have. It would be pointless for me to say, what’s less likely…Even some henna products may contain PPD.

  • Kelly

    Hello, I have been dying my hair for about 10 yrs now. A couple of months ago I decided to dye my hair blonde, which is lighter than my natural color. I also ended up using a brand I have never used before. When I started putting it in my hair, my scalp started burning kinda bad. It was only in my hair 5-10 min before I washed it off. When I did, my scalp was fine. I had no burning, redness, blisters, etc. I did become a little light headed though for the next 12 hrs. Does this mean I am allergic now?

    Side Note: When my head was burning, my mom dabbed a little on her neck and she said it started burning her too. Could it just be a faulty product?

    • Jan Modric


      it’s possible both you and your mom are allergic to this product. To be sure, a skin test performed by an allergologist would be needed.

  • Confused

    Hi Jan,

    I used a permanent hair dye 2 weeks ago, the same brand that I had used for many years with no problems. I have never had any allergic reactions to anything before. This time though I developed itchy red knees within 20 minutes and over the next few days I developed red itchy elbows, knuckles and hips. I also had very mild eyelid swelling (the morning after the dye was applied). I assumed an allergy to ppd, but I am surprised I did not suffer from any scalp or head problems. Can ppd in hair dye cause skin problems on areas other than the head? I did suffer from red itchy legs after showering for about a week after the dye, but now I am fine again – no skin probelms, no swelling. Perhaps it wasn’t the hair dye that caused the itchiness? Why did my knees go first? Why were the joints affected? Incidentally I have vitiligo on my joints too, I wonder if that is connected? Grateful for any advice please.

    • Jan Modric


      a certain inhaled substance could reach the bloodstream and trigger allergic arthritis – this would explain redness over the joints. Leg itchinnes during showering further speaks for an allergy. I strongly recommend you to visit an allergologist for testing. Avoid any contact with the current or any other hair dye, also avoid hairdersser saloons and do not approach to people who have freshly dyed hair. I mean, the next reaction may be much stronger (anaphylactic reaction). Call the doctor and ask if he can provide any preventative medication – antihistamine pills or steroids – in the case of another allergic reaction.

  • Lindsey

    Hi, i have been bleaching my hair blonde for around 10 years, 4 yrs aago i had patch tests and was told im allergic to ppd. I suffer with tingling skin most days could this be something in the bleach? I really want brown hair but dont know how to get around this? please can you advise me if there is a way around it??


    • Jan Modric


      if you are allergic to PPD, you will need to avoid PPD. I don’t know if PPD could be in your product, but apart from PPD you could be allergic to some other substance in the product – an allergologist can tell.

  • Lindsey

    Thank you…

    Does bleach contain ppd?

    • Jan Modric


      bleach as such does not contain PPD, but then I can’t say what all is in the exact product you use. PPD is also not in henna, but still some henna *products* contain PPD.

  • lisa

    Jan thanks for your informed and intelligent site. Have to say I became increasingly frustrated by those people who were confused and unable to comprehend your specific and responsible guidelines in this great forum. This site isnt about alternatives that may be just as dangerous as the products we are all reacting too! This is a big issue for all of us here and what works for some may have catastrophic results for others. Its a forum not a commercial venture and I admire your ethical and responsible approach Jan. Thankyou Lisa

  • Ally

    Well stupid me, i dyed my hair agian black but this time i went to a professional gave them the list i was allergic to and they got a dye without chemical and my head is weeping like crazy, is there anyway i can make it stop? Plz help im scared that the doctor might not take me in and help me 🙁

    • Jan Modric


      doctor should always accept you and treat no matter what is the cause. OTC antihistamine pills may help, but if no relief, you can visit your personal doctor or allergologist who can give you stronger antihistamines or corticosteroids.

  • tarnie

    can anyone help i dyed my hair a week ago (permanent) and about a day after my ears started itching and weeping, i went to the gp to get some cream which gave me no relief, a few days my head started itching and it had spread all over and was weeping. I also now have a rash everywhere which I’m not sure if its part of it, but is there anything i can to do apart from going to the extreme of shaving all my hair off?!

    • Jan Modric


      OTC antihistamine pills may help, and if not, a doctor can prescribe you appropriate medication.

  • lisa

    I just thought I should mention my most severe alergic reaction to hairdye was from foils. Im not sure how the dye made contact with my scalp but Im guessing when it was washed off! I have appeared on a consumer hairdye horror story show after this. Steroids and creams eased things but it took me a good 6mths to recover! I had hives all over my face, my eye were swollen shut my ears stuck weeping to my hair and head. I also used to have a reaction in the photography lab I would do my work in.I have photos to remind me of the pain and suffering I went through and to remind me never to do that to myself again! Oh by the way all my hairdresser was concerned with was that I would mention her name on national TV. 🙂

    • Jan Modric


      that’s interesing that your symptoms have lasted for so long. I agree, obviously some dye was washing off all the time. Rarely one wants to be a culprit for a national disaster 🙂 so I understand your hairdresser…

  • lisa

    Hi Jan, the remnents of symptoms lasted 6 mths not the whole episode thankfully. Didnt blame the hairdresser as she did what I asked and painstakingly brushed on the foils with care. That was about 3 yrs ago now but because it physically made me ill I realise how dangerous PPD is! The hairdressers are exposed to this deadly chemical all day every day so whats happening to them? Always believe an alergy is natures way of warning you something isnt right. Those of us experiencing such severe reactions might be doing those who dont a big favour in the long run!

  • Cristina

    More people with reactions coming out every day. It seems that we all react differently and for some of us longer than others. Is there any scientific studies related to PPD? I had reactions for 05 years before finding out they were coming from dying my hair. Even my tatoo that is 20 years old would swell and itch and I had no clue why…. PPD is a poison and makes me scared to think about the long term damages.

    • Jan Modric


      you may find more scientific data about PPD if you search this querry “ paraphenylenediamine”

  • mookie

    I’m 47yrs old & have been hightlighting my hair for yrs. The last 5yrs I’ve been coloring my whole head. I started having an allergic reaction 6 months ago with itchy swolen eyes every day. I have been blaming it on hormone changes due to the start of menopause. But on Sunday I had the worst reaction to date. Not only did my eyes swell but my whole face blew up and my neck as well. I had severe itching and weeping behind my ears and started to feel tingling in my left hand. I had prednisone prescribed and it helped by the night. I can’t beleive that no-one has developed a color without that horrific chemical ppd. I know i cannot color my hair again, I truly fear after this reaction. I hate the thought of going gray but my life is more important than that.

  • tarnie

    just a quick update, i went to see a different doctor and was put on antihistamines, steroids and antibiotics and it seems to be doing the trick 🙂 is not fully healed yet but im not getting all the itching as much and the main of it seems to have cleared up. keep persisting everyone 🙂

  • sumaya07087

    Hi i recently got my hair highlighted and developed a rash on my cheeks the next morning, i know im allergic to sulfa and benzoyl peroxide maybe just the peroxide i dont know this is not the first time ive gotten highlights or dyed my hair but this is the first time ive gotten a rash. i went to the doctor and she gave me a steroid (prednisone and i was taking benadryl too. i used hydrocortizone cream for the itching. the rash looks like tiny bumps all stuck together kind of like a burned look. my face also became swollen after 3 days .the swelling is starting to go down slowly but im wondering if the redness and bumps will disappear or will i have scars and is there anything i can put on it that might help it go away.

    • Jan Modric


      if bumps are from the allergic reaction, they should go away on its own in few days without any traces. Do not try forcedly remove them. Also do not use cortysone cream for more than two weeks, since it may cause thinning of the skin.

  • weepyscalp

    I had a strong reaction to a home hair dye 17 years ago – scalp itched, blistered and wept. I was prescribed steroids then. Needless to say, I was paranoid to dye again. I managed to highlight my hair a few times with no adverse reactions, but it was expensive and time consuming, so I quit.
    Now, 17 years later, I’m thinking maybe things have changed (products, not me).

    Since I’m quite anxious about dying my hair, I did two patch tests before deciding to dye my hair. Both were fine, no reaction. I was so excited! A week after the second patch test, I had my hair dyed (last Thursday) at 9am. By 5pm my head was so itchy I had to shower again. By Friday morning I was on the phone to the doctor. My scalp is itchy and so weepy that the back of my hair stays wet (yuck!). My neck and parts of my face are swollen, to where I can’t turn my head as far as normal. I have washed/rinsed my hair at least twice per day since then.

    To make a long story shorter, I have a couple questions… From what I read here, once the dye completely oxidizes the reaction should stop. Many hair dyes advertise root penetration. Is it that ‘root penetration’ that is causing the ongoing reaction? How long for the roots to grow out (so this will stop)? If I dump hydrogen peroxide on my scalp, will that help speed it up?

    • Jan Modric


      I don’t recommend you to use peroxyde. It is actually peroxyde that makes PPD able to cause an allergic reaction – by partially oxidizing it. Also, it is not clear to which exact substance you are allergic: PPD, peroxyde or something other. You can’t rinse PPD with water after it enters the hair, so I’m not sure if rinsing the hair frequently would have any effect or would even aggravate the reaction.

      Symptoms may last up to one week or even more. Prescribed oral corticosteroids or antihistamines can reduce the reaction.

  • weepyscalp

    Thanks Jan, for your response. I’m now on oral steroids (prednisone), and I think some (very little) of the swelling in my forehead has gone down, but I still have fat cheeks. I won’t peroxide my head, it was just a thought. It still itches, tingles, hurts, weeps… it’s pretty awful. My plan is to go to the hair salon tomorrow and find out what the difference was between the patch test and the dye that was put on my head. Because I didn’t react to the patch test at all.

    If I knew it would help, I would probably even shave my head. Hopefully, out of this, the hair salon will be careful to test the exact color on the next person.

    • Jan Modric


      you’ve probably touched your hair with hands several times after dying it. If there is no rash on your hands, it means the hair itself does not irritate your skin anymore, but there is still an inflammation in the parts of skin that were originaly in the contact with the dye. So, shaving would not likely help much. For you, it is important to know to which exact substance you are allergic. It can be PPD, hydrogen peroxide or some other substance.

  • weepyscalp

    Thanks Jan, I went to the hairdresser to see what the different ingredient(s) was (were) but she is on vacation this week. Darn it! The prednisone seems to have almost cleared up the weeping, now I have dried blisters and crazy itching. I even got away with only one hair wash (I was washing the ooze out) yesterday. My scalp, however, now hurts. It feels bruised – mainly where most of the oozing was.

    My hands and fingers are fine, and yes, I’ve touched my hair a lot.

    The main problem with prednisone is that I haven’t slept much in two days. Before that I didn’t sleep from benadryl (which hypes me up for some reason) and pain. So sleep would be nice. It’s been almost a week now.

    • Jan Modric


      there are some other OTC antihistamine pills available, like Zyrtec or Claritin – they are non-sedating antihistamines, so I don’t know, if these won’t irritate you even more. Lowering the dose of Benadryl could help. Itch and inflammation should go away even on its own in…some…time, though.

  • thaycraft

    Contact FDA regarding Chemical Burns cause by..** EDIT by Jan Modric : we do not publish hair dye products.


    This products needs to be lifted from store shelves asap.

    • Jan Modric


      PPD in hair/beard dye products is allowed by FDA. If you think it is some other issue, you can contact FDA yourself.

  • weepyscalp

    Fun – it’s been 15 days and now I have hives. I have just a few more days on the prednisone – yay! – and maybe when I’m off all the meds I’ll feel better. I have hives from my scalp, extra thick on my neck, and down to my knees. On both arms as well. I’m so cute these days! I went back to the doctor and they seem baffled. Hives could be from the hair dye still (as I reduce the prednisone, blah blah), or it could be a new allergy. I just want to be done with this!

    • Jan Modric


      it sounds as a bit more severe allergic reaction to a hair dye, which may last a bit longer. It’s also possible you are in the constant contact with the triggering substance from the hair dye (from your own hair, or by inhaling small amount of someone’s other hair dye, for example…), or an allergy to some other substance (in soap, cosmetics, food) was triggered by a hair dye allergy. If symptoms will persist after stopping steroids, I recommend you to see an allergist.

  • dorthy

    Hair dye reaction: Whoke up the next morning with my tongue covered in brown,the color seeped into my tongue! Attempted to removed with toothbrush, some left..I quess that a clear answer to swallow my pride and let the white hair thru..Has this happened to anyone?

  • mookie

    Hi it has been six weeks since I colored my hair and had the bad reaction, and was on prednizone. Yesterday I opened up two vitamin E capsules and put them rubbed it around my eyes and forhead. Oh my God I swelled up again to the point my eyes are almost closed shut. Waiting for my prednizone as I’m wrtinting this. Can you tell me what all triggers this, I know it was the vitamin E . Please help

    • Jan Modric


      I don’t know, but there are usually several substances, including artificial dyes in the vitamin products – theoretically it could be the same substance that caused hair dye allergy, or another substance, you were allergic to it before or become allergic after using the hair dye. I’m sure an allergist can identify the substance.

  • weepyscalp

    Brief update – I saw the dermatologist yesterday and they prescribed more creams (tried steroids, but I rejected that). Unfortunately I could not pick them up because I had to get my son from school. I will get the creams (steroid creams) on Monday and hope they help. I have hives all over my body, but they are worst (swollen, itchy, AND painful) on my neck. I also have very flaky skin, from my scalp to my feet.

    I *think* things are getting better, but that may be just wishful thinking. The dermatologist said that this was a ‘sympathetic reaction’ – that basically some of my skin started acting up and the rest of my skin figured it ought to act up, too. Yay, I have sympathetic skin. It is now 23 days since I colored my hair.

    • Jan Modric


      an allergist should be able to figure out (with your help): is it a prolonged reaction to a dye you’ve colored your hair with, to inhaled particles from someone’s other hair dye, to some cosmetics or soap…or food..or medicine, or clothes, you became allergic after coloring your hair. I mean, you might need additional patch tests,but an allergist should say.

  • roberta

    I have been suffering from total body itching and
    a feeling of extreme heat (burning). I have been
    looking into anything that could cause this. I realize that it seems to be worse after I have my hair dyed. I have no swelling or rash. I’ve been dying my hair for many years and sometimes would get an itchy scalp. Now it’s all over and the
    burning feeling is awful. Could this be from the

    • Jan Modric


      I guess it could be from the dye. A skin test performed by an allergist can give you the answer.

  • shanmus

    Jan, thanks for your very informative forum. Would you still perhaps have the e-mail for “diane on”. i would like some information

    • Jan Modric


      I’ve decided not to promote hair dyes here or mediate in a non-health related issues.

  • Dillon

    Died my moustache hair using permanent hair dye. I’ve had a very bad reaction around my mouth which has left me looking like a swollen duck. Corticosteriodal cream i think only made it worse and am now just using flamazine to treat any infection. The area is extremely swollen and burns and itches like hell. Does anyone know if this well be permanent? My concern is that its not just a skin reaction which usually clears up but and actual chemical burn which ofcourse may never clear up??

    • Jan Modric


      an allergist may recommend you antihistaminic pills or oral corticosteroids. If it is an allergic reaction, it will very likely heal completely in few days or in about a week.

    • maryan

      I bleach my facial hair even though I hardly had any any moustache my whole face went literally black and it was sooo sore and itchy and that whole entire day my salon lady gave me aloe vera gel. I kept washing my face with very cold water and put Aloe Vera gel literally every time the gel dried I put it on again and again and by night time it was all ok again it was so bad I didn’t think it would get better but seriously aloe Vera gel helped me soooo sooo much it does wonders!!!!

  • jen


    I am sorry that you cant publish the happy story here. Going gray may not be a health issue to you, but to some it is a mental issue

    • Jan Modric


      I’m not dealing with these specific mental issues here.

  • lisa

    Its interesting to come back here and revaluate all the pain and suffering people are experiencing from bloody hair dye!Still people want this forum to solve the problem! Jan is continually having to repeat and justify repeditivaly his stance! Dont we get it? And we repeat the injury to our bodies over just to cover grey! Im seeing beautiful grey men and women around lately with great skin, bodies and teeth.Healthy people do look great no matter what colour their hair! Jan perhaps you could open another forum here where we all post photos of ourselves under the influence of PPD and give those who persistantly want you to endorse hair products some perspective! Perhaps we could then try and guess which products did the most damage for whom and how? 🙂

    • Jan Modric


      to me, descriptions of swelling and burning posted so far were impressive enough…I don want mentioning any brand name in a positive or negative way, since I don’t want to promote or harm any producer for no reason – it’s about a reaction of your skin to various substances that can be found even in some natural products.

  • weepyscalp

    Just thought I would pass on an update. I’m still itchy, but it is (finally!) confined to my head. My hair has grown enough these last two months that some of my hair falls in my eyes. Whether or not that’s related to the fact that I seem to have pink-eye, I don’t know. The kids don’t have it, which is odd. I have not been able to do the T.R.U.E. test yet since I am still reacting. I still have the occasional hives on one leg. I will NEVER do this again.

  • lisa

    You dont need to explain yourself continually Jan. I feel sorry your having to for some.

  • jen


    Great comments.
    Do these people you see around with great teeth & gray hair, do you think they have not had lots of work done to their teeth, caps, bleaching, cleaning, veneers….even false teeth.

    Their great bodies, all natural too…..not excessive with exercise or supplements, maybe even surgery.

    Skin, of course all natural there too….no expensive creams, no botex or other treatments, all natural

    There are all sorts of aids in all these areas, one cannot say if they do or they don’t use artificial aids, cosmetics, technology to help their own personal goals

  • sam

    I been looking up different hair dye allergies and cant seem to find anything with my experience i been dying my hair for 15 years all colors type and brands with no problem the one day i went to dye my hair and the moment the smell hit me my face and chest turned blood red i felt like i couldnt breath and like passing out once i washed my hair out and went outside away from the smell i felt fine i tried it again with two other brands and colors and the same thing happend i went to the doctor they said dosnt sound like anything they heard of and to take benodryl do you have any idea whats happend i really would like to dye my hair again.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Sam

      We cannot say with any degree of certainty but it is possible that you have developed a sensitivity to hair dyes. If it was only with one dye then you could argue that it was a tainted batch and so on but considering that this is arising with other types of hair dyes as well, it is possible that this a sensitivity to the active ingredients. It is however strange that you have not experienced any localized symptoms (on the scalp) so we would have to assume that the airborne components (fumes) are irritating the respiratory passages.

  • diane

    Welcome Dr Chris

    May I ask what are your views on passing on some details of products that have worked for some people with out taking responsibility for them?

    We are here as a group of people seeking a solution to dying our hair, we don’t want to go grey just yet.

    I am not here to sell a product, my interests are only to share the details of a product that has worked for me as a brunette



    • Dr. Chris

      Hello Dianne

      The editorial guidelines are such that we cannot promote any product or allow any user to promote a product. Advertisers wishing to market their products on this website had best contact the admin staff to discuss it further. Any product that makes claims about its efficacy will need to verify this with the results of clinical trials. Individual experiences are not accepted. You may however relay your personal experience but the name of the product will not be published. Considering your location Diane, you should be aware that this website has a mainly US based readership so if you opt to advertise on this website, you will need to approval of a the relevant US authorities.

  • Diane

    Dr Chris

    I think you have miss-understood. I am not here to advertise or sell a product.

    I understand your “guidelines” but I seem to want to challenge them in frustration to the constant queries here.

    So the fact that I am in AUS, makes no difference to me or others with a similar problem. Its a world wide concern. I have been contacted by at-least 6 people from this site, a lady from South Africa to just point out the audience to you as well….

    Again I have told my story here.
    But lets face it, we need alternative products….we don’t need to be told we are having a allergic reaction…..when your face, head swells, weeps, itches, sheds skin, blisters after hair coloring…..we know we are….

    In fact the product I do purchase is from the USA….yes we can purchase from any country &
    Delivered all the way here to Australia


    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Diane

      Sorry if I misunderstood your query. In a day we delete scores of comments by advertisers attempting to market their products in these comment boxes. We do not recommend any alternatives. Certain advertisers do market their products in the Google Ads boxes above but this is not in our control. Advertisers in those instances deal directly with the Google Adwords campaign.

      I am unsure as to what you are seeking – as said, if it is advertising, contact the admin staff or preferably advertise via Google Adwords and opt to market on this site. If you are asking me to discuss alternatives, well, that is against our guidelines because we cannot promote any alternative products. Unless the manufacturer or distributors of this product intends on marketing on this platform, we cannot say much. I am unsure where you come in with your association with this US product.

      Please do consider the fact that we are here to guide readers, not serves as a medical consultation, make a diagnosis or prescribe any treatment. Ultimately if readers are unhappy, they can simply close their browser. If advertisers or product manufacturers want to advertise they can do so with Google Adwords. Remember that the ads seen in each country varies based on your geographical location – this is not in our hands but part of the Google Adwords program.

      Irrespective of how you feel about our “guidelines” or how previous members of the Health Hype team responded to previous comments, our editorial guidelines have always been in place and I follow them as far as possible. If readers are frustrated, they can voice their opinion and we will direct them accordingly – this is a free service intended to help readers but at times we end up being abused. It is this type of behavior that prompts the editors to consider closing these comment boxes. Remember the internet is a free medium – if you wish to share you opinion on it, you are entitled to do so on your own website or blog.

  • Flash

    Diane from Australia, I’d like to know what you are using.
    Its a great forum but I would like to know about products people have found to use. I don’t see a way to contact forum users personally though and hate to post My email on a forum.. any idea’s?

    • Dr. Chris

      Flash and Diane

      We will not allow any person to post their email address as it is only a matter of time until they contact us and ask us to remove it due to spammers targeting them. Additional work on our side. Instead, I would advise users to use social media sites. Place your social media username in the Name section of the comment box and NOT within the post comment. If Diane is interested, she can always advertise on the site.

  • Donna

    I too have dyed my hair for years, up untill 2 years ago. Had a very bad reaction, weeping, burning, itching scalp. I can now only use a non permanent hair color, the kind that washs out in 10 washes. Ita a PITA but at least I can still color my hair. D a test on your inside arm crease, before trying though..just to make sure.

  • Vanessa

    I have been dying my hair for many years, and suddenly I have developed an allergic reaction, along my hairline and behind my ears, it was pretty serious, I am on medication, but I desperately need to dye my hair, is there anything I can use, I was told to use non-permanent hair dye, Do you think it will be alright to use?

    • Hi Vanessa. Allergies like this can suddenly start up even after years of exposure to the dye. Sometimes it can be a “bad” batch of the same due that you have used for so long. However, it is best to avoid it at this point especially since you are using medication. Yes, “milder” dying agents are often less of an irritant but unfortunately do not have the same long lasting effect. If you are uncertain about a possible reaction, then try a small amount on your forearm and wait to see if there is any reaction. If it is all clear then you can attempt to use it on your scalp. But first let the inflammation on the scalp subside before you dye your hair or you could just worsen the condition.

  • Jennifer

    Dyed my hair a week ago and the next day my scalp was so itchy like I had head lice or something, then my ears and my neck started to feel itchy as well. My ears were red and swollen and my neck was also red and felt like I had insect bites. Can someone tell me why this happened to me because this never happened before when I usual dyed my hair! Pls help!!