Swollen earlobe

Allergies: Overview on hair dye allergy

Fact Checked

Some individuals are prone to develop the symptoms of hair dye allergy when one is applied. Hair dyes have been used throughout the years all over the world. It is a widely used beauty product by women for aesthetic purposes.

Possible causes of hair dye allergy

Due to the increased use of hair dyes, there is also an increase in the cases of allergic reactions to the product. The chemical present in hair dyes that are likely to trigger allergic reactions is para-phenylenediamine (PPD).

This chemical is present in most variants of permanent hair dyes and can effectively penetrate the hair shaft and follicle as well as adhering to the proteins in the skin. These qualities make PPD a strong contact antigen that can trigger allergic reactions.

Hair dye alllergy
The typical indications of hair dye allergy include contact dermatitis that often manifests on the eyelids, face, neck and ears.

The other chemicals present in hair dye that are also capable of triggering allergic reactions include cobalt and glycerol thioglycolate.

What are the indications?

The typical indications of hair dye allergy include contact dermatitis that often manifests on the eyelids, face, neck and ears. The rashes on the scalp are uncommon due to the thickness of the skin in the area. It is not unusual for serious facial swelling to develop with contact dermatitis due to hair dye that can be mistaken as angioedema.

The indications of a reaction usually manifest within 2-3 days after coloring the hair. Nevertheless, the symptoms might last for days up to weeks after the last time the individual dyed his/her hair.


A diagnosis of this allergic reaction is done via a patch test. This involves the application of the antigens onto the skin and held in place using a paper tape. The patch is allowed to stay in place for 48 hours with the results assessed both at the time the patch is removed as well as either 24-48 hours after. Once there are small-sized, red bumps or blisters on the test site, it indicates a positive result.


The primary treatment for hair dye allergy involves avoidance of the chemical responsible for the reaction. If the antigen could be identified, it should be avoided. The individual might be able to continue using hair dyes that do not contain the antigen.

Once a reaction is triggered, treatment involves corticosteroids. If the response is minimal and localized to a limited area of the body, topical corticosteroid creams or ointments can be utilized. These topical corticosteroids must be carefully used on the face due to the potential for serious side effects with prolonged use. The facial rashes are ideally treated with safer topical medications. As for severe rashes, they are managed with systemic corticosteroids either in oral form or as an injection.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All firstaidreddeer.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.