Monday, October 6, 2008

hair dye allergic reaction

Above is a picture of my neck...two weeks after colouring my hair with a light brown hair dye manufactured by L'Oreal.

For about 6 months i have suffered from a 'mysterious' allergy. After spending a fortune on tests, allergy specialists and dermatologists who diagnosed "eczema", "contact dermatitis" and prescribed hydro-cortison creams, steroids, anti-histamine pills etc. I finally discovered that the culprit wasn't stress or any food I eat but the hair dye that i had used on and off for many years.

My symptoms started six months ago, a couple of days after colouring my hair. Very mild at first: just a rash on my neck, shoulders and arms. Then, a couple of months later, after another application, red and itchy eyelids, blisters along my hairline, and several eczema patches on my neck, and temples.
It took me six months, and a more severe allergic reaction (my scalp was covered in painful scabs, lymph nodes in my neck became swollen like a ping pong ball, and the neck eczema got much worse) to figure out the real cause.

PPD, para-phenylenediamine, a substance banned in some European countries, but still widely used in hair dye products manufactured and sold in Asia and the US!
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) an American agency, stated that you should "prevent
skin contact" with PPD in order to avoid the "symptoms: Irritation, pharynx, larynx; bronchial asthma; sensitization dermatitis" (NIOSH, ). Recently, PPD received bad press when it was used to darken henna tattoos and caused numerous disfiguring scars. The FDA states "So-called "black henna" may contain p-phenylenediamine, also known as PPD. The only legal use of PPD in cosmetics is as a hair dye. It is not approved for direct application to the skin. However,
when most hair dye is applied it does come in direct contact with the scalp and quite often touches the skin on the forehead and ears. Hair dye is in direct contact with the skin for sometimes up to 30 minutes.

Many phenylenediamines are demonstrated to be mutagenic and carcinogenic. At its most innocent, PPD might inflict a person with a nasty welt-like reaction that itches and burns. At its most malignant, PPD has been associated with death.

Life threatening occurrences are rare. But judging from the stories i read in magazines, and on the Internet, sensitization and allergic reactions are much more common.

Some marketers and “appliers” prefer to tell clients that mild reactions are common and no big deal. They recommend an anti-itch cream, but blow it off as no big deal. They fail to mention the sensitization issues. This is ignoble and serves to prove the point that the use of PPD is purely to market something with no respect for the people who use it nor any care for what might happen to them. Though not an uncommon viewpoint in the capitalist mindset, it isn’t something that people in the know are going to let slide.

This issue is not about cosmetic and technical grades- it is about a substance that does more harm than good and the public should be informed as to the extent of the harm. L'Oreal's defense is that some people are even allergic to food, therefore there is no reason to ban a substance that causes an allergic reaction in some people. Well, they don't mention the fact that food is not toxic, while PPD is neither promoted for use on the skin nor legal to use on the skin in many countries!
Even DuPont, makers of PPD, warn against using it on the skin.
Articles in the British Journal of Dermatology emphasise the inherent dangers of para-Phenylenediamine.

There seems to be a small misconception that you will react immediately to PPD, so if it doesn’t burn/sting or otherwise present an effect immediately, one is safe from any reaction. This is not true and it’s a dangerous myth! PPD is known for its short sensitization period- that means you might not get or see an immediate reaction, but the next time you come in contact with PPD you could have an extremely bad reaction.
The toxins slowly build up in your body, but it's not until you cross an unspecified threshold that you run the risk of a reaction which, as has been reported, can be very severe indeed.

I am concerned that there is no requirement in Hong Kong for manufacturers to declare quantities of chemicals they have in a particular product, and this needs to change. With so many hair dyes being sold over the counter, we need monitoring of types and quantities of chemicals in these products.

I wasn't allergic for years, but the build-up of PPD in my body eventually caused a severe reaction. As a result, my health has been very poor for 6 months, i am constantly tired, my skin is a mess, always itchy and inflamed, scabs don't heal properly, and my lymph nodes are still swollen and painful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi just wondering if this allergy ever went away? If so, how?