Hair dye poisoning

A hair dye is a chemical utilized to provide color to hair. Most of these products are comprised of strong chemical compounds where some include heavy metals. The dyes are categorized as permanent, semi-permanent and temporary. The permanent hair dyes penetrate the hair roots on the scalp while the temporary variants are applied directly on the hair to change the color.

Hair dye poisoning can occur by accident or intentionally if the product is swallowed. In some cases, the eye or skin is exposed to the substance which causes irritation and other associated symptoms.

Some of the chemicals present in hair dye might include ethanolamine, ammonia, sodium carbonate, p-phenylenediamine, hydrogen peroxide, toluene diamines, naphthylamine and other chemicals. Some of the heavy metals that might be present include silver, mercury, bismuth, lead and even arsenic.

What are the indications?

The symptoms of hair dye poisoning tend to vary for each case and ranges from minor to severe.

Generally, the indications of hair dye poisoning include the following:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain and burning sensation in the mouth and throat
  • Watery or blood-streaked diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
    Hair dye poisoning

    Pain and burning sensation in the mouth and throat.

  • Blurred vision
  • In case of eye exposure, it can cause watery, reddened eyes and irritation
  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Inability to walk properly
  • Skin rashes
  • Issues with urination such as diminished output or lack of urine
  • Low blood pressure
  • Collapse and coma

Management of hair dye poisoning

Once an individual is suspected with hair dye poisoning, it is vital to call for emergency assistance right away or the poison control center.

  • Check if the individual has a pulse rate and breathing.
  • If the eyes or skin was exposed to the hair dye product, wash thoroughly using water for up to 15 minutes.
  • In case of ingestion, immediately provide water or milk to drink. If the individual is vomiting or has diminished level of alertness, do not provide anything orally.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by a healthcare professional.

Upon arrival at the nearest healthcare facility, the individual is further assessed if further treatment is needed.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on hair dye poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the symptoms, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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