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Allergies

Hair Dye Allergy or Infection?

12/02/2002

Question:

I am a 35 year old female. I have lived my whole life with allergies and asthma; when I was five years old, I was tested "positive" to virtually all allergens, including a couple of food allergies to boot! My question is this, and it may not necessarily be an allergy question. I use hair dye every two months or so, but I also have extreme anxiety and part of that anxiety is open-like wounds on my scalp. Of course, I know the hair companies caution to not color your hair if you have an open wound, but for me, that would be never, so I take the chance and do it anyway. However, I also notice that about a week later, I am at the doctor`s office with the flu. Is this related to the hair dye? Is this an infection problem or an allergy problem? I will say that I currently take medication for the anxiety problem, but this has been a lifelong "issue" and probably won`t go away unexpectedly. I`d appreciate any info. you could give as far the "true dangers" of coloring your hair with wounds on the scalp. If this is something "life threatening", I may have to reconsider my options; however, if I just have to deal with the occasional "cold", I will suffer for vanity`s sake. Thanks!

Answer:

The only problem we see due to hair dye allergy is allergic contact dermatitis caused by a chemical used as preservatives. This would be manifested by a rash on the neck and surrounding the scalp. Other than that, I know of no other hazards related to hair dye. Please consult your physician if you have any concerns.

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Response by:

David I Bernstein, MD David I Bernstein, MD
Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati