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Call to ban hair dye ingredient over allergies

By Louise Prance , 02-Feb-2007

Allergic reactions to hair dyes are reaching new heights as more and more young people become preoccupied with altering their outward appearance, according to a recent study by the British Medical Journal this week.

The study highlights the harm that is being caused by the main agent in over two-thirds of all hair dyes on the market at present, para-phenylenediamine (PPD).

It has long been questioned whether the benefits of PPD outweigh the drawbacks, with the agent already banned in Germany, France and Sweden due to the problems it was causing.

A recent survey conducted in London concluded that, following a patch test, the frequency of adults with contact dermatitis as a result of a hair dye allergy, rose by 7.1 per cent over a six-year period.

Allergic reactions in young people have ranged from severe outbreaks of dermatitis to patients being admitted to hospital due with significant facial swelling. But despite this there is currently no alternative or satisfactory agent on the market to replace it.

Despite current European legislation only allowing PPD to make up six per cent of constituents in hair dyes, there is still a significant increase in teenagers and adults reporting a reaction to the agent.

However, it is noticeable that the younger generation is becoming more affected by the agent as they continue to dye their hair despite the risks.

A market study, conducted by the Japan Soap and Detergent Association in 1992, showed 13 per cent of all high school students in Tokyo used hair colour products, a figure which has risen to 41 per cent by 2001.

In particular it is the female consumer that appears to have ignored warnings of the adverse affects to PPD, with the number of Japanese women in their twenties using hair dye rising from 6 per cent in 1992 to 85 per cent in 2001.

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