Hair Dye Allergy

Hair dye allergy is one of the most common skin reactions. It occurs when someone’s body reacts to certain chemicals used in hair dyes. These chemicals are usually derived from petroleum or coal tar derivatives, which contain benzene, toluene, xylene and other carcinogenic substances. Hair dye allergies have been reported in all age groups. They occur at any time during the year and they may be severe enough to cause temporary blindness or even death.

The symptoms of hair dye allergy vary depending on the type of hair dye. Some types such as those made from petroleum products (dyes) cause only minor skin irritation while others like those made from coal tar derivatives cause severe reactions that include itching, swelling, redness and pain.

Itching: The first symptom of a reaction to hair dye is often a burning sensation in the affected area. This may be followed by itchy rashes around the mouth, face and neck. Other symptoms may include hives, swelling and inflammation of the eyes.

Swelling: Sudden swelling of the hands, feet or legs may occur. This is known as edema. Edema can lead to problems with breathing and circulation. Severe cases may result in kidney failure if not treated immediately by medical professionals.

Redness: Redness is another common symptom of a reaction to hair dye. This is usually caused as a result of the skin pores becoming plugged with the hair dye. The redness is itchy, hot and painful to the touch.

Blisters: Blisters may form around the eyes and on the face. These blisters are often surrounded by redness and will contain a watery fluid. The blisters are very sensitive to touch and pressure.

The above are some of the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to hair dye. It is very important that you seek medical assistance if you experience any of these problems. If you can’t reach your doctor, or the problem is serious, go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

Your medical history may be of vital importance in determining the cause of your problem. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to any substances or if you have a history of allergic reactions. Also tell them if you have a family history of any allergic reactions as well as current medicines, prescription and non-prescription.

Tests: If your doctor feels that you are in danger, they may decide to treat you immediately. Otherwise, they may begin by doing patch tests to determine what ingredient in the hair dye is causing your allergic reaction. This testing is painless and non-invasive. The doctor will place a small amount of each suspected ingredient onto your forearm or back.

If you do not exhibit a reaction in 48 hours, the next step is to have the actual hair dye applied to a small part of your hairless area. If there is no reaction after 3 days, you can safely use that type of hair dye.

Treatment: Once your doctor has discovered the type of hair dye that you are allergic to, they may prescribe a treatment. This may include antihistamines to relieve itching or even steroids if your condition is severe. In cases of swelling or inflammation, your physician may also prescribe an ointment or pills to reduce this problem.

There is no permanent cure for hair dye allergy. Your only choices are to either avoid hair dyes or to use a brand which you know, through testing, that you are not allergic to.

Tips for applying and removing hair dyes:

* Apply hair dyes in a well ventilated room. Also, do not apply over areas of your skin that have been recently shaved or waxed as this can lead to severe irritation.

* Always apply the dye to the roots of the hair. Never apply over the scalp as this can cause severe skin irritation.

* Use plastic gloves to prevent the dye from coming into contact with your hands. If you do get the dye on your hands, be sure to wash them immediately.

* Use clean towels to wipe off the dye after it has settled. Do not use water to wash out the dye as this can lead to an increase in allergic reaction.

* Follow the instructions on the package for recommended time periods as well as the order in which the dye is to be mixed.

Most reactions to hair dye, while uncomfortable, are not life threatening. However, if you experience swelling, tightness in the chest or difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical attention.

Steroid creams

Steroid creams are very effective at treating a variety of skin conditions but they can cause some serious side effects when used over long periods of time. These side effects may include thinning of the skin, weight gain, high blood pressure, increased susceptibility to infection and even some types of cancers. Be sure to follow the instructions of your physician when using a steroid cream and if you notice any side effects, be sure to let your doctor know immediately.


Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergies. In cases of skin allergies they are used to reduce the itching sensation that one experiences when allergic to something. They can be taken orally or applied topically in the form of a cream. When applied topically, they can reduce the itching sensation as well as reduce the redness of the affected area.

Be sure to follow all instructions when using antihistamine as an OTC treatment.


Antibiotics are increasingly becoming resistant to one another as bacteria continue to evolve. As such, it is becoming more difficult for physicians to treat bacterial infections. When an infection occurs, it is important that it is treated with the correct antibiotic to avoid the possibility of the infection becoming incurable.

In the case of a pimple or boil, your physician may suggest treating the affected area with an antibiotic cream. Antibiotic creams can be purchased over the counter and are fairly easy to use. If you are unsure as to how to properly apply the cream your pharmacist can give you guidance or you can reference the package directions.

Antibiotic creams can cause skin irritation, itching or stinging. In some cases, the cream may also cause a rash. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and they are severe, be sure to call your physician and let them know as you may require a cream that does not contain an antibiotic.

The use of antibiotic creams should only be used in the short-term, for example to treat a bacterial infection of the skin. It should not be used on a long-term basis as this will lead to the skin becoming tolerant to the effects of the antibiotic.

Laundry additives

Laundry additives are designed to be added to the wash either in the form of a packet, liquid or powder. The additive works by fighting dirt, grime, sweat, odors and other unwanted elements that can be transferred from our clothes to ourselves and vice versa.

Most laundry additives advertise that they can eliminate or significantly reduce the amount of bacteria present on our clothes. This is due to the ingredients in the additive which can help break down and eliminate dirt, grime, sweat and other elements on our clothes.

Laundry additives for the most part are fairly safe to use however they should not be consumed. Also, if you have very sensitive skin, you may find that using a laundry additive causes an increase in skin irritation. If this is the case, you may want to speak with your doctor or try a different additive as opposed to continuing to use this one as it may be the cause of your skin irritation.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a topically applied beta hydroxyl acid that is usually used in concentrations of 0.5 to 2%. It works by penetrating the epidermis where it dissolves Keratin, a protein that contributes to the thickness of the skin. It works best on areas of thick, calloused skin such as the heel or elbow.

If you are using salicylic acid to treat your acne, the dose may need to be increased until you find the dose that works best for you. Salicylic acid is only available over-the-counter in concentrations up to 2%. Higher concentrations, up to 20%, are available with a prescription. Side effects may include dry and irritated skin, stinging and redness.

Salicylic acid should never be applied to broken or damaged skin as this could cause further irritation. Also, salicylic acid should not be used on the genitals. If you apply too much, you may experience nausea, dizziness, sudden headache, or constipation. Salicylic acid should not be used by people with diabetes.

Prescription topical antibiotics

Prescription topical antibiotics are the most powerful medications available over-the-counter. They work by killing off the P. acnes bacteria that cause acne. It is important to note that in order for these medications to work, they must be used in combination with other products as described above (i.e.

cleansers, scrubs, moisturizers etc). These products should only be used as directed by your physician and should never be applied more than once a day.

These medications are typically applied to the areas of the skin that are affected by the acne such as the face, back, neck, chest or shoulders. Some of these products require that you apply a minimum amount to dry skin while others require that you lather up beforehand.

Most prescription topical antibiotics have the same set of potential side effects such as skin irritation, burning, stinging, dryness and redness. More serious complications such as rashes, hives, pain, swelling, blistering and even scarring may also occur. If you notice any of these side effects or any other unexpected symptoms (such as wheezing or difficulty breathing), you should seek medical attention immediately.

If you get a prescription for a topical antibiotic, it is not a good idea to discontinue use of the medication even if your skin clears up. This is because the bacteria that these medications kills can build up a resistance over time and will make you much more prone to getting other skin infections such as impetigo or folliculitis. When this happens, you may need to see a dermatologist for additional treatment.

Research has shown that erythromycin is especially effective in the treatment of acne. In fact, it can be just as effective as certain antibiotics that are taken orally (such as doxycycline and minocycline). It is thought that erythromycin binds to the protein responsible for the synthesis of fatty acids in bacteria. It also has a very low toxicity for skin tissues.

Erythromycin is available in both topical and pill form. The topical form is most commonly used to treat acne.

Another effective topical antibiotic is clindamycin. This medication can be quite effective as both a topical and an internal medication. It works by blocking some of the processes that lead to abnormal filament formation in the bacterium. Clindamycin is a very safe medication for skin use, although it is not as fast-acting as erythromycin.

Other topical antibiotics such as metronidazole, sulfacetamide and benzoyl peroxide are available to those who need to treat their acne. However, these medications do not work for everyone and it is important to consult with a physician before using them on a regular basis.

Retin-A and Renova are related drugs that are available only by prescription. These medications are derivatives of vitamin A. While they were initially developed to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and acne, studies have shown that both of these drugs also possess some highly beneficial properties when it comes to the treatment of photoaging (damage caused by the sun).

Tretinoin (brand name Retin-A) and its close relative, Tazarotene (brand name Tazorac) are the most effective topical medications that are available for the treatment of photoaged skin. While research has shown that these drugs can help improve skin texture, wrinkling and mottled pigmentation associated with photoaging, they have also been known to cause very mild crusting and erythema (redness) in some individuals.

Azelaic acid is another topical medication that has shown some benefit in the treatment of acne. It works by decreasing skin cell buildup and can help treat the brown and black spots that are associated with this skin condition. Azelaic acid is available in cream, gel and foam formulations and is typically well-tolerated. There is one potential side effect to this medication and that is the possibility of some mild irritation.

Even though clear skin is the goal of most people with acne, it is important to keep in mind that new skin cells are not necessarily healthy skin cells. In fact, new skin cells can allow underlying damage caused by the sun to be more apparent, which can make your skin appear to be redder and blotchier. This is why it is so important to check your skin for abnormal growths at least once a month and have a dermatologist check your skin once a year.

After the age of twenty-one, your skin cells are no longer regenerating as fast as they were when you were a teenager. While this can be seen as a positive thing, as far as outward signs of aging are concerned, it also means that your ability to heal from certain types of damage takes longer. Sunscreen (especially one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) should be applied to your skin every single day, regardless of whether or not you plan on going outside. It is also a good idea to wear protective clothing, such as a hat or scarf and UV-blocking sunglasses.

In addition to using sunscreen and protective clothing when you are out in the sun, it is important to remember to stay out of the sun during the peak hours of the day (typically between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.).

While you may not notice the signs of photoaging immediately, eventually the long-term damage that is done will make itself known. In order to have healthy skin and avoid premature signs of aging, it is important to stay out of the sun whenever possible and limit your UV exposure.

Acne can be a very frustrating condition for everyone who suffers from it. In addition to the emotional toll that it can take on some people, the physical toll can lead to scarring and permanent skin discoloration. The good news is that there are highly effective treatments for acne available today. While creams and pills are always an option, some patients may require more aggressive therapy in order to achieve their maximum results.

This may include a combination of topical and/or systemic medications, laser therapy, light therapy or even surgery in extreme cases. For many people, these treatments will lead to smoother, clearer skin. Be sure to consult your physician when deciding on the best treatment option for you.

Sources & references used in this article:

Hair dye contact allergy: quantitative exposure assessment of selected products and clinical cases by H Søsted, SC Rastogi, KE Andersen… – Contact …, 2004 – Wiley Online Library

Cross-reactions among hair dye allergens by DA Basketter, J English – Cutaneous and ocular toxicology, 2009 – Taylor & Francis

Hair-dye allergy: a coloured case by E Hink, JP de Winter – European journal of pediatrics, 2006 –

A temporary henna tattoo causing hair and clothing dye allergy by J Matulich, J Sullivan – Contact Dermatitis, 2005 – Wiley Online Library