Figure out what is causing your red, itchy, inflamed scalp

Reactions to hair care products can be frustrating. They can present as anything from a slightly itchy scalp to an inflamed and irritated hairline. Figuring out what is causing the reaction can be just as frustrating. First narrow down which product could be causing the problem and then you can dig into the label for more answers so you can find the products that will make your hair look great and your scalp feel fantastic.

SOLUTION ONE

Hair Dyes and the Chemicals in Them

SOLUTION TWO

Shampoos and Conditioners: Read the Label

SOLUTION THREE

The Hidden Culprit: Finishing Products

BONUS: ONE INGREDIENT ALL NATURAL SOLUTIONS

  • Tapioca for oily hair
  • Coconut Oil for shine
  • Olive Oil for dry hair
  • Avocado for conditioner
  • Eggs for adding volume
  • Tea Tree Oil for itchy scalp

SOLUTION ONE

Hair Dyes and the Chemicals in Them

red itchy swollen inflamed hair dye

Harsh chemicals may be the cause of irritation, but do you know which one? 

The most common product that someone may have an immediate allergic reaction to is hair color, more specifically, para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical used in most hair dyes. About 5% of people are found to be allergic to hair dyes.

Usually, you will find out instantly if you are allergic to hair color since the chemicals are so harsh, unlike other beauty products. The allergen causing chemical(s) in hair color may make your skin turn red, and swelling may occur wherever the hair color was applied. Occasionally, you may also encounter a stinging or burning sensation on either your scalp or your face. 

If you know that you are allergic to hair color treatments, let the beautician know on your first consult. You can tell them specific color lines you can or can not tolerate, or you can ask them for suggestions of hair coloring agents that may work for you. In a salon, there are ways to work around this. Professionals can put cotton around your scalp to ensure that the color does not touch your skin. You can also try going to a salon that uses chemically-conscience products. Most salon hair dyes will contain chemical agents; however, an Avada salon will use toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate (TDS) instead of para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Still, nothing is 100% guaranteed to prevent reactions. If you are dying your hair at home look for the PPD or para-phenylenediamine in the product ingredients label. Another way to try to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring is to use a natural hair color product, like henna, instead. When you find what is working you can always bring the product to your salon for a professional to apply. 

SOLUTION TWO

Shampoos and Conditioners: Read the Label

red itchy inflamed scalp shampoo conditioner

One of the most common shampoos and conditioner connections to allergies is a correlation with a nut allergy. Many people don’t know that shampoos and conditions contain nuts. The walnut is the most commonly used nut in hair cleansing products. Most consumers already know that they have a nut allergy, but they do not realize that there are nut products in some of their favorite shampoos. For the most part, your skin will just become itchy and red if you are allergic to the product.

Different chemicals can also be the cause of an allergic reaction. Looking for an organic brand can help.

Like foods, if you flip the label over and there are more words you can not pronounce than words you recognize it is more likely that brand will cause a reaction.

The brand Pureology sells shampoos and conditioners that are typically free from harsh chemicals. If you are really having a problem finding a clean product that does not cause a reaction try using one ingredient natural items that aren’t necessarily thought of for hair, like avocados, or eggs. 

SOLUTION THREE

The Hidden Culprit: Finishing Products

If you use several different hair care products, it can be hard to narrow down that the finishing products are actually the cause for the reaction. Many people overlook that different kinds of hairsprays can create an allergic reaction. You may have a reaction to the fragrance of the hairspray, the chemicals, or the ingredients in residue left on the hair. Most of the time, these reactions are similar to the reactions of shampoo and conditioner allergies; redness, irritation, and inflammation of the scalp. If you already know that you have a pre-existing allergy, you can always ask an expert or a product specialist to figure out what hairspray could be best for you. Knowing what the ingredients are will help you to find the right products for you.

Anything labeled hypoallergenic or organic can be a quick first step to a possible solution. Look for hairsprays that are fragrance-free, or chemically-conscience depending on what you belive your allergy triggering agent is. You can also look for gels and pomades made specifically for sensitive skin.

If you are highly concerned about what is going on with an allergic reaction, seek the advice of a dermatologist. Beauticians and hair care professionals may be able to guide you towards products. However, they are unable to diagnose and treat an allergic reaction.

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This post may contain affiliate links that will result in a commission if item is purchased.

Opinions and advice are that of our contributors. Seek professional advice before making decisions.

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