With the Holidays just around the corner, millions of women (and possibly men) around the world will be coloring their hair in an attempt to look their best for friends and family. But for thousands of these people, they're going to get more than a little hair color -- an unexpected allergic reaction to the hair dye just might ruin the Holiday Season. Hair dye allergy is a common form of contact dermatitis, which can cause an itchy, red, flaky rash on the face and eyelids, or even severe facial swelling. The chemical responsible for most cases of hair dye allergy is para-phenylenediamine (PPD), the allergy of which can be identified by patch testing. Mild cases of hair dye allergy can be treated with topical steroid creams; severe cases may require steroid pills or shots.
The use of hair dye has been on the increase over the past 20 years in many parts of the world. In the United States, women are using hair dye earlier and more frequently in an attempt to maintain a more youthful appearance. The same can be said of men in the U.S., who have seen a 25% increase in the use of hair dye in recent years. A similar pattern is seen in many other areas around the world, including the Far East and Europe.
Cosmetic-induced contact dermatitis is common, since people may apply numerous chemicals to their skin, hair and scalp daily. Typically, the rash will occur on the skin where the cosmetic was applied, although sometimes the rash will occur on another part of the body (for example, reactions to nail polish may first cause an eyelid rash as a result of touching the eyelid). It's possible for an allergy to a substance to develop even after years of using the cosmetic without previous problems.
Along with the evaluation for contact dermatitis, which includes patch testing, a person's history of exposure to various chemicals can help to determine the cause of the rash. The most common patch test performed in the United States is the TRUE test, and is the only test FDA approved for the diagnosis of contact dermatitis. Avoidance information is available for the chemicals tested for in this panel. The most important aspect of the treatment of contact dermatitis involves avoidance of the trigger.
Issues that are unique to children, or that are commonly seen in childhood are discussed. Sections focus on food allergies, possible prevention of allergies in children, and problems that the allergic child may face in school.