Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Itchy and Scratchy all Over- Paraphenylenediamine What???

Over the past 2 weeks I've had 2 interesting patients with prolonged episodes of a severe rash all over her body and/or itchy eyes.   Even after a good history we were both left scratching our heads. The cause of the rash was a mystery. 

We applied a patch test looking for chemical that might be causing the reaction.  And what did we find?  They were both highly allergic to a molecule called para-phenylenediamine (try to say that fast 3 times in a row), also called PPD.   Both episodes of the occurred after dying their hair!

PPD is a chemical commonly used in permanent and semi-permanent hair dye because it gives the hair a natural color.

You can find PPD in:
* Permanent hair dye          * Semi-permanent hair dye
* Henna Tattoos                 * Textiles
* Fur dyes                          * Dark Colored Cosmetics
* Black Rubber                  * Photocopying and printing inks

This is a common allergy and affects almost 9% of the people we look for with contact allergy.  This is increasing in prevalence over the years.  We aren't sure why, but some possible culprits are:
- earlier use of hair dye at an earlier age
- common placement of henna tattoos
- more individuals (including men) are dying their hair (and beards) at home

How can you tell your hair dye has PPD?

* The easiest way is to look to see if there are 2 bottles in the kit.  PPD has to be "activated" by a 2nd compound, typically hydrogen peroxide. 
* You can also read the ingredient list. 
And if you can't learn to love those gray hairs?

- Always test your self with the hair dye before applying it and
-Tell your hair dresser of your PPD allergy.
What are some safe hair dyes that are PPD free?
* Lady Grecian® Formula
* Temporary Color Spray
* Clairol® Loving Care Hair color
* Vegetable-based hair dyes such as juglone from walnut shells
* Jerome Russell’s Color Mousse
* Grecian® Formula
*Sun-In®, Spray-In Hair Lightener