Allergic reactions to hair dye are increasing as more and younger people dye their hair. This can lead to dermatitis on the face and, in severe cases, facial swelling, says new research.
More than two thirds of hair dyes contain para-phenylenediamine (PPD). No satisfactory or widely accepted alternative is available.
In the 20th century, allergic reactions to PPD caused the chemical to be banned from dyes in France, Sweden and Germany. The European Union now allows PPD to comprise up to 6% of consumer hair dyes.
Dermatologists report that the frequency of positive reactions to PPD on patch testing is increasing. A recent survey in London found a doubling of allergic reactions from 2000 to 2006, to 7.1 percent. Severe hair dye reactions among children have also recently been reported.
Research indicates that more people are dyeing their hair at a younger age. A survey in 1992 by the Japan Soap and Detergent Association found that 13 percent of female high school students dyed their hair compared to six percent of women in their 20s.
It may not be easy to reverse these trends. Some patients have continued to use such dyes even when advised that they are allergic and at risk for developing a severe reaction.