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  5. Hair Dye Allergy: Everything You Need To Know + Ayurvedic Solutions

Do you dream of sporting blonde or brunette hair some day? Well, a vast majority of adults use hair dyes either for a makeover or to cover their greys. But the ingredients present in the dye can irritate your scalp and lead to an allergic reaction!

So, does that mean you can never colour your hair? Not really. Because Ayurveda has several remedies for hair dye allergies. You just need to know how you can treat it naturally.

In this article, we have explored in detail what a hair dye allergy looks like and how you can prevent it by understanding the Ayurvedic prakriti of your hair. Keep reading.

How Common Is It For Hair Dyes To Have An Allergic Reaction?

As many as 42% of people who dye their hair report mild reactions like headache and itchiness in the scalp. Of these, 67% experience the symptoms within an hour of using the hair dye [1].

Another aspect is that hair dye allergies are more common in individuals over 50 years of age [2]. This is because the body’s immunity to fight allergens reduces as we grow old and the skin becomes more susceptible to react to foreign elements.

Most people develop a full-blown allergic reaction to hair dyes during its second or third use as by then, the skin becomes sensitized to the harsh chemicals. So, while you might not think anything of general itching at first, localized discomfort is definitely a preliminary sign of potential allergy.

On the other hand, people severely allergic to hair dyes can have a bad reaction after the first use itself. If you are among this small group, there is nothing to worry about. A good way to be ahead of the allergy is by knowing your Ayurvedic hair type.

How Can You Tell If You Are Allergic To Hair Dye?

The most common symptom of a hair dye allergy is contact dermatitis. This is a condition where people with sensitive skin and hair start developing the following problems after coming in contact with harmful chemicals.

1. Itchiness and angry rashes

2. Inflammation, dryness, and redness

3. Stinging or burning sensation

4. Irritation in the neck, ears, and eye area

5. Swollen or blistered skin

6. Skin discolouration

The symptoms can show on your face, ear, scalp, and neck within 48 hours of first applying the colour. Apart from these areas, hair dyes also usually end up on your hands and arms while applying. So make sure you wash it off to eliminate the possibility of a bad spread.

In rare cases, hair dyes can cause anaphylaxis, which is a fatal allergic reaction. Its symptoms include feeling dizzy and nauseous, swollen limbs, eyes, lips or tongue, raised bumps on the skin, and a drop in blood pressure.

Since the symptoms spread to the entire body, Anaphylaxis can become life-threatening (leading to coma or even heart failure) if not immediately treated. In such a case, you must go to an emergency room [3].

To make sure you don’t dismiss any obvious symptoms of hair dye allergy, you can also take stock of your Ayurvedic prakriti by ascertaining your dominant dosha(s). For example, if you have a Vata body type, your hair has high porosity and thus, is more prone to damage by absorbing toxic chemicals from hair dyes.

Which Ingredients In Hair Dyes Cause An Allergic Reaction?

hair dye with ingredients

Hair dye allergies are caused when your skin does not respond well to the chemical ingredients present in the synthetic colour, the main allergen of all being para-phenylenediamine (PPD).

When PPD comes in contact with your scalp, it becomes partially oxidized. Your immune system forms antigens and tries to fight the foreign substance. This triggers allergic reactions in your body [4].

PPD is present in over 65% of commercial hair dyes. The chemical penetrates the hair shaft and clings to the protein in your skin. Notably, PPD becomes safe to use once it is fully oxidized.

Other chemicals in hair dye that work as allergens or lead to contact dermatitis are:

1. Cobalt

2. Glyceryl thioglycolate

3. Para-toluenediamine sulfate (PTDS)

4. Ammonia

5. Resorcinol

6. Peroxide

How To Do Hair Dye Allergy Test?

It is always a good idea to conduct an allergy test to see how your skin reacts to chemical products. Here are the steps to conduct a patch test:

1. Visit your doctor or dermatologist. They will place a patch on your skin containing potential allergens.

2. The patch is removed after 48 hours.

3. You could experience minor redness or small bumps, if any. They may or may not be an allergic reaction.

4. After four days of initial placement, the doctor determines the final reactions that have taken place and tells you if they are allergies or not.

5. You can then crosscheck your list of possible irritants against the ingredients of the hair dye you want to use.

If you want to do an allergy patch test at home, take a small amount of hair dye and apply it behind your ear. Let it dry and observe if you feel any irritation or skin discomfort in that area within the next 2-3 days.

How Do You Get Rid Of An Allergic Reaction To Hair Dye?

According to the ancient principles of Ayurveda, your body is composed of three vital energies or doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each individual is governed by one or two prominent doshas. Being aware of them can help you tap the root cause of why hair dye allergies are a common occurrence with certain hair types.

Here are some of the easiest ways to deal with hair dye allergies:

1. Ayurvedic Home Remedies To Control Hair Dye Allergy

preparing ayurvedic medicine

A. Honey

Put a few drops of honey on a cotton ball and dab it on your skin to reduce inflammation. A traditional remedy with immunomodulatory (modulating the immune system) properties, honey heals skin conditions caused due to contact dermatitis [5].

B. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel can heal wounds and reduce swelling with its anti-inflammatory properties. Just make sure you scoop out fresh aloe vera directly from the plant. Due to the gel consistency, you can apply it on the skin overnight as well. This will reduce itching and redness.

C. Coconut Oil

Massage the affected scalp and skin areas with coconut oil. An age-old remedy for skin problems, it has analgesic (pain reducing) properties which will soothe your irritated scalp. It is also a great moisturizer [6].

D. Chamomile Tea

Make a cup of chamomile tea and let it cool down. Wash your hair with the cooled down tea for reduced inflammation in the scalp. This has a counter effect on PPD.

E. Olive Oil

Apply olive oil to the affected area 2-3 times a day. Rich in antioxidants, you can also mix it with honey to make a hair mask and let it work its magic on your scalp overnight. It heals skin problems and fights allergens.

F. Sesame Oil

Massage the affected area with sesame oil for fast relief. The sesamin in the oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Its medicinal effect also prevents greying of hair [7].

G. Witch Hazel

Apply witch hazel (a herbal shrub) extract on the affected area. This is an excellent remedy for hair dye allergies. Its bioactive compounds like tannins and proanthocyanidins help soothe rashes and eliminate itchiness and swelling.

H. Yogurt

Mix a cup of homemade yogurt with 3 spoons of lemon juice and apply as a hair mask. Lemon juice has anti-inflammatory properties, while yogurt has lactic acid which calms down your scalp.

I. Oatmeal

Soak uncooked oatmeal in lukewarm bathwater for 15-20 minutes and then shower with it. It reduces irritation and itching. As surprising as this breakfast cereal remedy may sound, it can work wonders.

J. Basi

Apply the fresh juice from basil leaves on the allergic reaction. The herb has thymol and camphor, known for their anti-itching properties.

K. Mint

Boil fresh mint leaves for 10 minutes and let it cool. Strain out the leaves. You can either rub the concoction as is on the irritated areas, or freeze it and rub mint ice cubes on your skin for fast relief.

For effective results of these remedies, you need to assess your current Ayurvedic dosha levels. By checking your dosha imbalance, you can follow the Ayurvedic regimen best suited to your overall body prakriti.

You can also wash your hair with an Ayurvedic shampoo to remove excess dye from your scalp. Mix some baking soda and water in the shampoo to make a paste. Leave it on your hair for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. This will remove all residue of the hair dye and help you with fast recovery.

2. Ayurvedic Medicines To Control Hair Dye Allergy

Ancient Ayurveda suggests two types of medicinal solutions to hair dye allergies. These are proven herbal concoctions and pastes that are perfectly safe for all age groups, including children and senior citizens.

A. Internal Medication

These constitute 100% natural herbs and other substances that can be consumed with no side-effects to cure your hair and skin condition. They aim at removing the allergic agents in your bloodstream and soothing the skin. Some of these medicines are saptamrita loha, gulkhand, gandhaka rasayana, arogyavardhini, and sarivadyasava.

B. External Medication

This medication is to be directly applied on your allergies, all the while massaging the affected areas gently. These purification agents include mandara taila, bhringaraja taila, kayyunyadi keram, and chemparuthyadi keram.

Important note

It is highly recommended that you consult an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the amount of damage and the dependent dosage.

3. Alternatives To Chemical Hair Dye

Here are some natural alternatives to your chemical hair dyes. It is the most fool-proof way to avoid any untoward hair allergies and achieve a natural shine and glow.

A. Black walnut hair dye

B. Herbal pastes of gooseberry

C. Henna

D. Indigo and vegetable-based dyes

E. Semi-permanent and vegan dyes that are proven to be chemical-free by independent laboratories

Vedix Tip

Organic henna is a great conditioner for your hair. Please note that synthetic henna contains PPD. So make sure you only buy pure henna.

4. Other Medical Treatments To Get Rid Of Hair Dye Allergy

A. Topical corticosteroid creams that are available over the counter (OTC) can give some relief from the pain and irritation. Do not apply these creams around your eyes and mouth [8].

B. You can also take oral antihistamines like Benadryl to reduce skin inflammation caused due to hair dye allergy.

C. Your dermatologist may prescribe you stronger corticosteroids in case of a severe allergic reaction. These could be in the form of steroid creams, lotions, eye drops, ear drops, or pills and would give fast relief from swelling.

D. Potassium permanganate completely oxidizes PPD and soothes the allergy. Add 1 ml water to a pinch of potassium permanganate crystals and apply the solution on affected areas.

E. OTC hydrogen peroxide also acts as an oxidizing agent. Apply the liquid to the affected area for 2-4 minutes and wash it off. It is a mild antiseptic, which gives instant relief from itchiness and burning sensation.

F. Moisturize the affected area gently with a medical emollient or cream.

Word of caution

Please consult your pharmacist or dermatologist at every step. Buying strong medication without prescription can make matters worse for your skin, especially for sensitive areas like face and neck. Unsupervised treatment can also make the allergy a chronic condition.

How Long Does Hair Dye Allergy Last?

The symptoms of a mild hair dye allergy can last for about 10 to 15 days from the day of application. With due procedure, you would see itchiness, rashes, and inflammation go away in two weeks.

However, a hypersensitive allergic reaction to hair dye could last up to several months. This healing time varies for different people [9]. Visit a specialist as soon as possible to avoid any undue after-effects of the allergy.

How To Prevent Hair Dye Allergy?

1. Wear gloves while applying hair dye or if in a salon, ensure your hairdresser is wearing gloves.

2. Do not leave the dye in your hair longer than the required time.

3. After application, wash your hands with soap to remove any hair dye residue that might have gotten on your skin. Make sure you never cook or eat with hair dye on your hands.

4. Black and dark brown hair colors contain a greater amount of PPD. So avoid them if you are sensitive to contact dermatitis or allergens.

5. If you have temporary tattoos don’t use chemical hair dyes. These tattoos already have PPD in them and using a hair dye would only make you more prone to an allergic reaction [10].

6. Read the instructions carefully on the hair dye for any dos and don'ts that are to be followed strictly.

7. Use semi-permanent or lead-based hair dyes that do not contain PPD. Nearly 60% people allergic to PPD can reportedly tolerate PTDS hair dyes. However, speak to your dermatologist before switching from one chemical to another.

8. Check the labels before buying any hair dye. Some alternate names for PPD are PPDA, 1,4-benzenediamine, 4-aminoaniline, p-diaminobenzene, and phenylenediamine base.

  • Tattoo ink, gasoline, black rubber, textile dyes, and printer ink also contains the chemical PPD.

The Last Word

Remember that mindlessly popping antihistamines will not solve the purpose. Your hair needs change drastically depending on your dosha prakriti. Be aware of your doshas so that you can choose the right treatment for damage control. A holistic approach combined with the goodness of Ayurvedic herbs is all you need to reverse an allergic hair dye reaction.

At Vedix, we can help you do that by analyzing your dosha levels and carefully customizing a hair care regimen which you can optimally benefit from.

Know Your Dosha Now