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    Is it possible for females with PPD allergy to continue to use permanent hair dyes?

    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.All permanent hair dyes contain paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which is a common allergen.  Even many semipermanent dyes, lasting through 8-12 shampooings, contain PPD.  The only dyes that do not reliably contain PPD are the temporary hair dyes that only last through one shampooing, which most women do not find satisfactorily as the hair needs to be redyed each time it is cleaned.  Some of the semipermanent vegetable based dyes, such as henna or black walnut, may be used, but the packaging must be carefully consulted.  To extend the life of the henna semipermanent dye, many manufacturers add PPD.  Thus, for many women, it is hard to find the desired look with a hair dye that does not contain PPD.

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    The dermatologist may find some women who insist on using a PPD containing hair dye where the allergy is minimal to mild who need advice.  The patient must realize, however, that is possible for the allergy to worsen with repeated contact.  One way to allow minimally allergic patients to better tolerate PPD hair dyes is to perform a basing procedure.  Here the scalp and hairline are covered with a thick cream or petroleum jelly to prevent the hair dye from contacting the skin.  This does decrease the function of the dye at the scalp since it cannot contact the hair shaft completely to the root.  The night following the dyeing procedure fluocinonide oil can be massaged into the scalp and shampooed the following morning.  The nightly oil application can continue until any irritation resolves.  Remember this technique is only recommended for patients with minimal to mild PPD allergy.

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    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.
    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. She is investigator, ...

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