Do Allergic Reactions Ever Cause Hair Loss?

Allergic Reactions to Hair Dyes

Cosmetic strategies for both men and women are becoming more frequent these days, as our society places a heavier emphasis on youth and beauty.  Dyeing the hair is one of these strategies, and is popular for covering grey, complementing the skin tone, and significantly altering our appearance.  Unfortunately, there is an allergic reaction to some dyes which is widespread and may induce hair loss.

What Causes Hair Dye Allergic Reactions?

The chemical which causes this allergic reaction is found in a broad array of hair dyes, up to about two-thirds of those available.  It's called para-phenylenediamne, or PPD, and it can cause facial swelling, rashes, and hair loss.  Although there are vegetable dyes available with few or no side effects, such as henna, there doesn't seem to be a market for alternative ingredients in permanent hair dye, the kind most favored by consumers.

Adverse reactions to shampoo

Allergic reactions to sodium laurel sulfate and ammonium laurel sulfate in shampoos can contribute to hair loss.  These two ingredients are synthetically produced, and comprise the vast majority of shampoos on the market.  The allergic reaction may develop over time, and cause the body to respond in the form of dermatitis or hair loss. The hair loss would occur from the consumer scratching the scalp so intensely that it leads to infection, breaking of the hair, and eventual hair loss. If you think you may be allergic to these two ingredients, or the allergy has been verified through a patch test, you may want to try shampoos with these natural ingredients:

  • Tea tree oil: this is a natural product that is both an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial oil used in many of the products where you might find sodium laurel sulfate, including shampoo, toothpaste and soap.  Tea tree oil is also recommended for those who suffer from dandruff.
  • Aloe vera: aloe vera is used in tons of natural cosmetics, from lotion to soap, shampoo and conditioner.  It is not an irritant, and is a gentle, affordable option.
  • Hemp, olive or palm oils: the benefit of using these ingredients is that they offer a creamy lather, which most consumers look for in a soaps and shampoos.  They also offer a high fat content which makes them ideal for nourishing the hair.  They are also known for having antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

Other allergies and hair loss

Other allergic reactions, for example to yeast or mold, can cause hair loss if the person suffering from the allergy engages in excessive scratching of the hair line and scalp.  Infections can occur, creating bald spots and hair loss.  Refrain from scratching the head and ask your health care provider for an allergy test (see below).

Pinpointing allergies

There's a simple procedure your doctor can perform to verify allergies.  The patch test, or skin test, can determine which specific allergies you have by introducing allergy-triggering substances and then monitoring the skin for adverse reactions.  These reactions could be swelling, intense itching, rash, or even difficulty breathing.  These observations can be helpful when trying to choose alternative cosmetic, food, and household products.

Conclusion: Allergic Reactions and Hair Loss

Switching out your permanent dye and shampoos containing synthetic ingredients for natural products can be the start of alleviating allergies and the symptoms they produce, such as hair loss.  An allergy test is also helpful for avoiding those substances which you may allergic to, and replacing them with alternative ingredients or products.


Photo Credit: jessyparr

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