Press Release  •  Oct 21, 2011 12:50 BST

Allergy UK, the leading national medical charity for people with allergies, food intolerance and chemical sensitivity, says allergic reactions to hair dye products are widespread in the UK.

Lindsey McManus, Allergy UK’s resident allergy expert comments: “Every week our helpline advisors speak to concerned callers who have experienced an allergic reaction or irritation after using hair colouring. We always recommend skin patch testing before using hair dye products and advise people to reduce unnecessary exposure to chemicals.”

Hair dye users can experience an irritation (irritant contact dermatitis) when an area of skin is in direct contact with dye. Symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis vary from very mild to quite severe. The irritation tends to affect the scalp, neck, forehead, ears and eyelids. PPD (Paraphenylenediamine) is one of the chemicals used in permanent hair dyes (particularly dark shades), which can trigger a sensitive reaction.

People can also have an allergic reaction to the dye (allergic contact dermatitis), which can affect other areas of the body causing widespread itching, urticaria (nettlerash) and general unwellness.  In serious cases, it can lead to anaphylactic shock, where the face and mouth swell up before breathing stops.

James Wood, owner of James Wood Organic Hairdressing runs an ammonia free hair salon in West Yorkshire. He only uses reduced toxic hair colourings, after he noticed his allergic symptoms to chemicals reduced when he was away from the salon. James also noticed an improvement in staff allergies such as dermatitis and asthma: “Hair colourings are the most toxic materials a hairdresser uses. We now use a naturally based hair colour containing certified organic ingredients that is much less toxic to the hairdresser and consumer.”


Allergy UK the operational name of the British Allergy Foundation; we are the leading national medical charity providing advice, information, and support to people with allergies, food intolerance, and chemical sensitivity. We act as the 'voice' of allergy sufferers, representing the views and needs of those affected by this multi organ disease.

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