The Hair Dye-Psoriasis Dilemma
The scalp is one of the most common places on the body to be affected by plaque psoriasis. In fact, around half of people with the condition have symptoms located on the scalp. As with psoriasis located in other areas, symptoms may come and go over time. If you have psoriasis on your scalp or in and around your ears you may hesitate to dye your hair for feat it may irritate your scalp psoriasis or cause a full-on psoriasis flare. Don’t let your psoriasis limit you from expressing yourself with a fun, vibrant new hair color or a new dark hue, or just wanting to cover-up graying hair!
Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for dying your hair when you have psoriasis.
Give your hairdresser a head’s up
If you decide to go the professional route for your new due, it can be helpful to go in for a consultation with a hair stylist or barber first. This way you can talk to your stylist about your psoriasis and mention any triggers that you are aware of that might be helpful for him or her to also be aware of. If they seem to be unfamiliar with psoriasis this is a great opportunity to give them some information about psoriasis (who doesn’t love a great opportunity for spreading awareness)!
Patch test the product
Patch tests are one of the best ways to see whether or not a product (like bleach or hair dye) can be used safely with your psoriasis. To do a patch test use cotton swabs to dab a small amount of the product onto your skin at the nape of your neck or a small amount of it on your inner forearm and leave it for 24-48 hours to see if your skin has an adverse reaction to the product.
Read your labels
Pay attention to the chemicals that are contained in the product before using a hair coloring product when you have psoriasis. Many hair dyes contain a chemical called paraphenylenediamine, or PPD. This chemical substance can be irritating to some with psoriasis so checking out your labels before you make a purchase or chatting with your hairdresser about what chemicals are in the product the salon uses can be important. If you are looking to lighten your hair, note that bleaches and peroxides may have an irritating effect on psoriasis as well.
If you want to go for a PPD free dye, don’t always turn to a product that says “natural” on the box. While many products market themselves as natural, this term is not defined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which in addition to approving treatments in the US, also oversee cosmetics. Natural can be labeled on most products for marketing purposes without actually having ingredients to back up that product label! It can be good to take a cautious approach as many psoriasis patients do with their moisturizers, and do a little more research about the ingredients before diving in and getting a new rainbow hue.
Be flare aware
This may seem obvious but if you are in the midst of scalp psoriasis flare it may not be the best time to dye your hair. You may want to wait until your symptoms are more controlled as to not exacerbate your psoriasis.
How about henna?
Henna can be a PPD-free alternative to traditional hair dye. Henna is plant-based and can be used if you are looking for red or reddish brown hues. Again be cautious to check that label, so products marketed as natural henna may actually be “black henna” which actually contains PPD to create the darker hue.