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Hair Color Allergic Reactions: Possible Symptoms


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Many people, men and women alike are unaware of the fact that at some time in their lives they will develop an allergy to hair color. Allergies should never be taken likely.

Allergic reactions to hair dyes and lightening agents are actually more common that most think.

Allergic reactions can range from mild to life threatening. Even more troubling is the fact that an allergy may occur with a product you used for years without any problems. Then suddenly the product produces sensitivities.

Some people develop allergies with repeated and long term exposure.

Although products exist designed to offer reduced chemical formulations, these types of products (Ecocolor, Herbatint) are not a solution for some individuals with allergies.

Always do a patch allergy test before every color application.

How do you know if you are experiencing an allergic reaction? Consider the following possible symptoms:

1. Swelling of scalp, forehead, eyes or face. 2. Formation of blisters on scalp, forehead or other body parts that made contact with product. Oozing of skin. 3. General burning sensation. Bright red skin. 4. Rashes on scalp, neck, face, fingers, hands, arms or anywhere the color product may have touched. 5. Itching ranging from slight to intense. Itching is often a key symptom to either a beginning or full blown allergic reaction.

Although it is extremely important to do a patch test before applying color to the entire scalp, some hair professionals have discovered that adding two packets of Sweet and Low to the hair color before application will help reduce itching.

Some people have found that taking Benadryl before and after application or the hair dye will minimize any itching.

Itching may occur for several reasons that are not specific to the hair color. It could be a combination effect.

One option is to take flax seed oil internally for at least 30 days. It is possible that you are allergic to ingredients in your shampoo. Try switching to a non SLS sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate shampoo.

6. Cold or flu like symptoms including general exhaustion, achy muscles, watery eyes and runny nose. Possible chills, hot/cold fluctuations, intense sweating.

7. Headaches and sinus blockages. Head stuffiness.

8. Start of asthma, bronchitis, wheezing, shortness of breath or other breathing issues.

9. Delayed hair loss. Skin discoloration such as the appearance of a white patch or ring.

In some cases you may experience rapid heartbeat and swallow breathing which is due to epinephrine in some hair colors.

Some Potential Remedies

Your first line of response to any type of allergic reaction is to contact a medical expert. Allergies can worsen over time and should never be ignored or self-treated.

Treatment of allergic reactions can range from a doctor prescribing an anti-inflammatory formula taken by mouth or by skin.

Keep in mind that some doctors may recommend topical steroids for treatment of severe itching. Topical steroids only mask the symptoms and does not heal the condition.


While some salons do carry chemical free professional hair color lines, make sure the products can achieve your desired color changes before investing in any treatments. If a previous allergic reaction has been experienced it is important that a patch test be performed before trying the product on your entire head.

Keep in mind that while many common allergic reaction indicators have been described in this article there may other reactions that have not yet been discovered or known in order to be documented.

When in doubt contact your physician.

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- Revised Date: 05/25/11

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