If you rely on hairspray to help your hair stay in place — but you notice a red rash on your forehead each time you use it -- you could be having an allergic reaction to the chemicals found in hairspray. Knowing how to determine if the reaction is an allergy can help you to select the right hairspray.
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Various chemicals are used to produce cosmetics. From make-up to hairspray, cosmetics can contain perfumes or other chemicals that can be harsh irritants to the skin and can result in allergic reactions. A reaction to hairspray most frequently results in skin redness known as contact dermatitis, according to the Mayo Clinic. This reaction occurs when the skin becomes inflamed and may appear as an itchy, red rash that causes discomfort. Even if you refrain from using that brand of hairspray or hairspray moving forward, this rash may persist for two to four weeks.
Allergies to hairspray do not always manifest themselves where you apply the hairspray, according to Ask Dr. Sears. Allergic hairspray reactions frequently appear as a rash on the eyelids instead. This is because the hairspray causes cells in your body responsible for fighting allergies to release a substance known as histamines. These histamines cause swelling and mucus secretions in the eyes, nose and throat. In these instances, you must think about the products you used prior to experiencing the rash. If you have just sprayed on hairspray and a rash develops on your eyes, or your nose begins to itch, these can be signs you are experiencing a hairspray allergy.
Certain ingredients and preservatives are associated with increased incidence of allergic reactions in cosmetic products, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Before purchasing a hairspray, review the label for one of the following ingredients, which can be irritating: parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and formaldehyde. Highly fragranced hair sprays also may cause a reaction, according to the Seattle Times.
If you experience allergic reactions to hairspray, avoid using that particular brand or hairspray altogether can help you to prevent future allergic reactions. Refrain from spraying hairspray near children or infants, as their skin is especially susceptible to skin reactions due to hairspray ingredients, according to Ask Dr. Sears.
If you experience an allergic reaction due to hairspray, apply a hydrocortisone cream to the affected area, according to MayoClinic.com. This cream can reduce itching and redness associated with hairspray allergies. You also may wish to apply a cold, wet compress to the skin to alleviate any itching or burning. Avoid scratching the area as this can only exacerbate your hairspray-induced skin condition. If the itching is severe, taking an over-the-counter antihistamine that contains diphenhydramine can help.