Many hair products contain a variety of natural and man-made ingredients, which can affect skin in different ways. Some people can have adverse reactions to one or more of these ingredients. The level of reaction can range from mild irritation to a full-blown allergy attack. With skin-based allergic reactions, a dry or itchy rash is the typical manifestation.
Allergies and Allergic Reactions
An allergic reaction occurs when your body's immune system launches an attack against a normally harmless substance. Most allergies are mild and don't require a doctor's care. However, severe reactions can lead to a condition known as anaphylactic shock. Left untreated, anaphylactic shock can lead to brain damage and death.
- An allergic reaction occurs when your body's immune system launches an attack against a normally harmless substance.
- Left untreated, anaphylactic shock can lead to brain damage and death.
Certain chemicals produce a localized skin reaction known as contact dermatitis 24. Industrial and cleaning agents cause irritant contact dermatitis when they damage the outer layer of your skin 24. Allergic contact dermatitis develops in response to specific metals, dyes, rubber compounds and cosmetic products 24. The reaction begins with redness and itching, followed by a dry rash and a thickened area of skin. When the allergen is removed, symptoms of the reaction typically subside. In some cases, the localized dermatitis spreads and produces itching over the entire body.
- Certain chemicals produce a localized skin reaction known as contact dermatitis 2.
- In some cases, the localized dermatitis spreads and produces itching over the entire body.
Hair Product Allergens
The labels of hair products often do not identify potential allergens in the list of ingredients, according to the "Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology." The most common allergen in hair products is fragrance; few shampoos or conditioners are without some amount of fragrance 3. Despite their appealing name, natural oils and essences also are a common allergy trigger in hair products. Other allergens in hair products include preservatives, alcohols and sunblock chemicals.
- The labels of hair products often do not identify potential allergens in the list of ingredients, according to the "Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology."
Remedies and Solutions
Bleach Allergy & Rash
Stop using any hair-care product when you believe it's causing an allergic reaction. Gently wash the affected area to remove all possible allergen residue. Wash any clothing or accessories that you believe may be contaminated. If the rash and dry skin are minor, they should clear up on their own within a couple of weeks. For more severe dry skin and irritation, apply a hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion. Read labels carefully and only purchase hair products and cosmetics specifically designed for allergic and sensitive individuals.
- Stop using any hair-care product when you believe it's causing an allergic reaction.
- Read labels carefully and only purchase hair products and cosmetics specifically designed for allergic and sensitive individuals.
Bleach Allergy & Rash
Allergic Reaction to Hair Dye & Head Itching
Polyester Allergies and Rashes
Sodium Laureth Sulfate Allergy
Allergies to Hairspray
Hydrogenated Soybean Oil Allergies
Allergies That Cause Facial Breakouts
Ingredients in Hair Removal Creams
How to Use Sulfur Powder for Hair
- MedLinePlus: Allergy
- Surrey Allergy Clinic: Contact Dermatitis
- Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: Hair Products: Trends and Alternatives
- MedLinePlus: Contact Dermatitis
- Bains SN, Nash P, Fonacier L. Irritant contact dermatitis. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology. 2018;56(1):99-109. doi:10.1007/s12016-018-8713-0
- Owen JL, Vakharia PP, Silverberg JI. The Role and Diagnosis of Allergic Contact Dermatitis in Patients with Atopic Dermatitis. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2018;19(3):293–302. doi:10.1007/s40257-017-0340-7
- Uter W, Werfel T, White IR, Johansen JD. Contact allergy: A review of current problems from a clinical perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(6):1108. doi:10.3390/ijerph15061108
- Robinson M, Visscher M, Laruffa A, Wickett R. Natural moisturizing factors (NMF) in the stratum corneum (SC). I. Effects of lipid extraction and soaking. J Cosmet Sci. 2010;61(1):13-22.
- Cheng J, Zug KA. Fragrance allergic contact dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2014;25(5):232-245. doi:10.1097/der.0000000000000067
- Deza G, Giménez-Arnau AM. Allergic contact dermatitis in preservatives. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2017;17(4):263-268. doi:10.1097/aci.0000000000000373
- Bleasel N, Tate B, Rademaker M. Allergic contact dermatitis following exposure to essential oils. Australasian Journal of Dermatology. 2002;43(3):211-213. doi:10.1046/j.1440-0960.2002.00598.x
- Fransen M, Overgaard LEK, Johansen JD, Thyssen JP. Contact allergy to lanolin: temporal changes in prevalence and association with atopic dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis. 2017;78(1):70-75. doi:10.1111/cod.12872
- Brasch J, Becker D, Aberer W, et al. Guideline contact dermatitis: S1-Guidelines of the German Contact Allergy Group (DKG) of the German Dermatology Society (DDG), the Information Network of Dermatological Clinics (IVDK), the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI), the Working Group for Occupational and Environmental Dermatology (ABD) of the DDG, the Medical Association of German Allergologists (AeDA), the Professional Association of German Dermatologists (BVDD) and the DDG. Allergo J Int. 2014;23(4):126–138. doi:10.1007/s40629-014-0013-5
- Martin SF, Rustemeyer T, Thyssen JP. Recent advances in understanding and managing contact dermatitis. F1000Res. 2018;7:F1000 Faculty Rev-810. doi:10.12688/f1000research.13499.1
- Tan CH, Rasool S, Johnston GA. Contact dermatitis: Allergic and irritant. Clin Dermatol. 2014;32(1):116-124. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2013.05.033
- Verhulst L, Goossens A. Cosmetic components causing contact urticaria: a review and update. Contact Dermatitis. 2016;75(6):333-344. doi:10.1111/cod.12679
Josh Patrick has several years of teaching and training experience, both in the academy and the private sector. He presented original work at the 20th Century Literature Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Patrick worked for three years on the editorial board for "Inscape," his alma mater's literary magazine. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science.