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Hair colour and pregnancy:

Minimise the risks of the impact of hair colour on your unborn child with these recommended measures.
By Motherpedia
Date: July 09 2013
Tags: pregnancy, hair,
Editor Rating:

Are you pregnant and either working in the hairdressing industry, or a hairdressing client who is pregnant and wondering about the effect of hair colour?

According to Dr Allison Johns of King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, apart from the potential to cause effects on the unborn child, hair dyes can also have side effects for the mother. These include:

  • Dermatitis – inflammation of the skin
  • Conjunctivitis – inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye
  • Glaucoma – an eye condition associated with increased pressure inside the eye
  • Proptosis – bulging eyes.

“These side effects can occur with either contact of the hair dye with the skin or ingestion. Most cases occur in hairdressers who use the products frequently in their profession,” says Dr Johns.

“During pregnancy, your hair may react differently to a variety of hair treatments including colouring or curling. It is advisable to talk to your hairdresser about this. If you are doing the treatment yourself at home, it is best to do a colouring test on a strand of hair before using the product,” Dr Johns advises.

Minimising the risks of using hair dyes

Dr Johns says there are several strategies to minimise the risk of toxicity/harm from the use of hair dyes, including:

  • Limit how often you dye your hair
  • Try highlighting your hair rather than dying your hair. During highlighting, dye is placed only on certain strands of hair and enclosed in foil. This way the dye is only absorbed by your hair and the amount of dye in contact with your scalp and bloodstream is minimised
  • Avoid dying your hair in periods of organ development of the foetus such as the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Wear gloves
  • Leave the dye on for the minimum amount of time
  • Rinse your scalp thoroughly after using any hair dye
  • Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Never mix different hair dye products
  • Colour your hair in a well-ventilated area
  • Go to a hairdresser rather than self application at home
  • Do an allergy test beforehand
  • Avoid hair dyes containing ammonia as the fumes inhaled may be harmful, and
  • Use of pure vegetable dyes a safe semi-permanent option.

What to do if you are a hairdresser or work in the industry and are pregnant

Dr Johns says if you work in the hairdressing industry, or come into contact with these products frequently, it is advisable that you follow the recommendations to minimise your exposure.

“Your exposure as a professional will largely depend on your working conditions, the number of hours you work, and how often you use chemicals to treat hair.”

Dr Johns says proper working conditions are important and should include:

  • Well-ventilated working environment
  • Use of protective gloves, and
  • Avoiding eating or drinking in the work area.
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