Contact dermatitis to hair dye, following sensitisation to non-permanent tattoos

Research from the Allergy Unit, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland, has looked at seven patients who have had allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) after eyelash or hair dyeing. All seven patients had had a previous reaction to a black henna tattoo, an increasingly popular form of non-permanent body decoration.

They were tested using the European standard patch test series, and the results showed that all 7 patients reacted positively to para-phenylenediamine (PPD). Other dyes to which they reacted positively were aminophenol, para-toluene diamine, disperse orange and yellow, and also benzocaine.

The average passage of time from the initial black henna tattoo to the onset of ACD was 6.2 years. The researchers concluded that the long skin contact of the tattoos and the high concentration of PPD increased the risk of sensitisation.  ACD may be followed by post-inflammatory hyper- or hypopigmentation (darkening or lightening of the skin), scarring and lifelong sensitisation which can have occupational impact, especially for hairdressers and cosmeticians.

Source:  Journal of the German Society of Dermatology

February 2012

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