Ongoing Hair Dye Reaction Risks

Many hair salons will currently be fully booked with hair colouring appointments in advance of the Platinum Jubilee and upcoming summer holidays. While safety standards at salons offering hair dyeing treatments have improved considerably since 2009, when an APIL survey found that the vast majority of salons were not carrying out patch tests to check for allergies, a significant number of women continue to experience allergic reactions to hair dye products during procedures every year, often with extremely painful and distressing consequences.

The main cause of allergic reactions to hair dye is the ingredient paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which is contained in more than two-thirds of hair colouring products, although adverse reactions may also be triggered by other ingredients including ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. The fact that such reactions are not uncommon is the reason why hair salons must carry out patch tests on clients 48 hours before a treatment is carried out. This involves applying a small amount of the dye product to the client’s skin (normally behind the ear), and checking for any adverse effects over the specified time period.

Nowadays, hair salons are normally very efficient in patch testing customers, mainly because their insurance will be invalid if they fail to carry out a test and a client experiences an allergic reaction. While it is especially important to patch test new customers, even regular clients should be patch tested at least every 6 months, as it is possible to develop a sensitivity to chemicals like PPD through contact with other substances at any point in time. Even if a client refuses a patch test or signs a waiver, a hair colouring treatment should not be allowed to go ahead, as the salon will still be liable for any subsequent adverse reaction.    

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to hair dye range from very mild to very serious. The skin on the scalp may become itchy, red and inflamed, while a person’s face will often swell up, particularly around the eyes. Headaches, neck pain, dizziness and nausea are other common symptoms, and a course of antihistamines will normally be required to deal with these problems. Hair loss and patches of baldness may develop, and in rare cases individuals may experience breathing difficulties which can indicate a systemic reaction in the body with potentially very severe consequences including toxic shock and cardiac arrest.

Our solicitors have represented hundreds of clients who have been injured following allergic reactions to hair dye products at salons over the years, with our firm being one of the first to handle these claims. Contact our experienced female solicitors today for free, confidential legal advice if you have experienced an allergic reaction to hair dye at a salon:

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