Friday, June 1, 2012

PPD Allergy

A little over a week ago, I went to the salon to get my hair done.  I had some stubborn gray hairs, and decided to get a black rinse.  The stylist used a semi permanent color from Clairol, called Radiance.  I sat under the dryer with it in for about 15 minutes, she rinsed it out, and proceeded to style my hair.  My hair looked great and felt fine when I left the salon. The next morning, my scalp felt itchy, which is rare for me.  By noontime, I had a red rash along my sideburns and my ears.  I also had a few oozing sores in my scalp. I knew then, that I was reacting to the color.  I took some Benadryl and washed my hair, but it was too late.  The next day, the burning, itching rash was all around my hairline, neck and ears, and my face was visibly swollen.  I felt like a monster!  I went to the doctor and was prescribed steroids for 10 days.

I reacted to a chemical found in many permanent and semi-permanent hair colors called paraphenylenediamine (PPD).  This chemical can also be found in dark colored cosmetics, dark synthetic hair (which is why some people think they are allergic to braids), textile dyes, temporary tattoos, black henna products and printing inks.  

This has happened to me before, but it wasn't this bad, and I didn't know what it was from.  The previous two times it happened were both from salon experiences.  However, I had gotten a relaxer and a color at the same time, so I assumed that the stylists didn't rinse out the relaxer enough.  I just moved on to another stylist. This allergy gets worse with each exposure to PPD.

My rash is just about gone, but I'm still itching- all over my body, actually.  I'm still taking Benadryl.  My scalp is very tender, so I'm trying not to manipulate my hair too much. I've also only been co-washing, staying away from shampoos or any products that might aggravate my scalp.  Applying hydrogen peroxide once a day has helped the rash go away more quickly.  I also apply calamine lotion to the areas that itch.  Not fun at all.

Compared to some, I didn't have such a bad reaction.  For some, the swelling lasts for a week or more.  My doctor told me that she has seen much worse, and some even experience trouble breathing.  Some people are hospitalized, and there have been reports of some falling into a coma from their reactions.  Fortunately, I haven't lost any hair.

Make sure you check the ingredients of your hair products.  PPD can also come up under the following names:
  • PPD or PPDA
  • Phenylenediamine base
  • p-Phenylenediamine
  • 4-Phenylenediamine
  • 1,4-Phenylenediamine
  • 4-Benzenediamine
  • 1,4-Benzenediamine
  • para-Diaminobenzene (p-Diaminobenzene)
  • para-Aminoaniline (p-Aminoaniline)
  • Orsin
  • Rodol
  • Ursol
You can develop an allergy to this any time, even if you've used the same product before.  Doing a patch test a couple of days before applying hair color can usually reveal a sensitivity to PPD.  Please, please, please, do a patch test- using a NATURAL product or not- before applying any color!

I really want to move on from this bad experience, but since I have this blog, I feel I should use this platform to help others and prevent what happened to me to anyone else.


Shawnie said...

Thank you for sharing this information. The same exact thing happened to me a few years ago when I used Bigen. It was just terrible; the itching, swelling and the sores in my scalp. I stopped using all manners of hair tints, dyes, etc. I decided to give Bigen another chance in March and it was the same horrible reaction all over again. Both times I failed to go to a doctor; I self medicated and thoroughly washed my hair and bedding. Thanks again for sharing; perhaps there is something out there that will cover gray and does not contain PPD.

MeliMel said...

I'm sorry that happened to you but glad you're getting better. Thanks so much for the info!

Tiffanita said...

@Shawnie, I'm sorry you've experienced this. I also had a reaction to Bigen, about 10 years ago. I didn't have any sores or anything, but my whole body was itchy. Now I know what it was from! Like I wrote, every time you interact with PPD, the worse your reactions are. I did find a natural black henna called Surya Henna that doesn't contain PPD. I may try day!

Catherine S said...

I had the same problem it's horrible! I developed the allergy from a henna tattoo reaction. I discovered a new herbal hair dye that is free from ppds and wrote about it on my blog . It worked well for me and have had no reactions to it. People need to be more aware of the risks of ppd!

China said...

this is happening to me now. i dont want to go to the ER. my face is swollen and im taking benadryl . what can i do to help the swelling to go down ? how long will the swelling last ? should i strip the hair color with peroxide and shampoo ? please help me . thanks

Gloria T said...

I dyed my hair when I left the hairdresser my scalp was itching me like it was on fire. When I got home my scalp was soaking wet it was weeping so bad. Then when I woke up in the morning my face was swollen I could not open my eyes. I went to emergency doctor all he gave me was cream for my scalp and hayfever tablet. The next day my face was swollen so badly I looked like a monster. I went to A&E he gave me the same thing. So I end up going to my doctor she was so shocked with my face she put me on steroids tablets. To feel your face swelling to it can't swell anymore it's a horrible thing. I look so ugly. The doctor sad I am allergic to PPD. So now I have to be very careful about using hair dye and to make sure they don't have PPD in them.
Before you colour your hair please do a test.