With thousands of chemicals mixed to make these dyes, are the side effects restricted to the condition of your hair alone?
Many people say their hair is just not the same ever since they coloured it. Hair fall, greying, lack of lustre and poor health of hair are some of the common complaints. But what about allergic reactions that can get you hospitalised?
In 2011, the Daily Mail reported the case of a teenager who died within an hour of applying a hair dye at home. Doctors suspected an allergic reaction to p-Phenylendiamine (PPD), a chemical used in 99 per cent of all hair-dyes. It also reported the case of a 29-year-old woman who had suffered from severe itches and blisters after colouring her hair, and had to spend three days at the hospital, due to an allergic reaction to the same chemical.
Colour gone bad
“The dye content, which gives colour to the hair in most hair colours in PPD. People have allergic or irritant reactions to it,” said Dr Sunitha P, consultant dermatologist at Adi Clinic.
“Even if they say it’s ammonia-free, PPD can still cause allergy,” said Dr Radha Shah, consultant dermatologist at Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills.
While irritant reaction is an immediate manifestation, allergic reactions occur when the person develops an allergy to the chemical after months or years of application, the doctors said.
Fluid filled blisters, puss formation and severe pain occurs in extreme cases, Dr Shah said. “Sometimes, it spreads to the entire scalp, surrounding areas, and even the whole body.”
Dr Sunitha said people need to check the content (though it is an idiosyncratic reaction where even one or two per cent PPD can cause irritation) and check the frequency of application. According to a paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, permanent hair dyes when used for a long time may increase the risk of cancers in adults. “There is no direct proof. But there could be a potential risk, said Dr Sunitha.
“We give anti-allergic medicines, based on the type of reaction. In severe cases steroids may be given,” Dr Sunitha said. She said the method of application matters. One must use gloves, and make sure it doesn’t come in contact with the scalp or facial skin. This puts beauticians who apply dyes every day at a higher risk. “Approach a skin specialist. Do a patch test first. Never directly apply onto the entire scalp,” Dr Shah said. “Ideally, if you have an allergic reaction, you should avoid dyes in the future, except herbal ones.”
Some natural ways to colour your hair
> Doctors say henna can be used, though it dries the hair, with proper serums or oils to balance it.
> Lemons act as a bleach to lighten hair colour over time.
> Crush marigold and brew them like tea and apply the concentrate on your hair for red or golden highlight (depending on your
> Strong black coffee darkens hair and paprika paste reddens it.