A study conducted by Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS University), Tirupati, shows hair dye as the commonly emerging suicidal poison in the recent years.

Trouble seems to be at arm’s reach, perhaps on most dressing tables, in the form of the hair dye. Not many know that the ubiquitous cosmetic solution preferred by many middle-aged men and women has highly toxic ingredients, with no known antidote.

Most hair dyes contain Paraphenylenediamine (PPD), resorcinol and propylene glycol, which are identified as toxic components. A study conducted by Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS University), Tirupati, shows hair dye as the commonly emerging suicidal poison in the recent years. “While pesticides have to be purchased from farm-related outlets in rural areas, hair dye is available over the counter in any super market, which is a cause for concern, especially for playful children and emotional adolescents,” says Alladi Mohan, head of Medicine at SVIMS.

In the study conducted with data pertaining to 2009-12 with a sample size of 234 patients who consumed it, the mortality rate was found to be at an alarming 60 per cent. The average age of victims was 25 years and the male to female ratio at a staggering 1:2.4 (women outnumbered men). The study bagged the ‘Best Paper award’ at the state conference of Association of Physicians of India (AP APICON 2013) held at Mahabubnagar early this year.

Symptoms

Patients who consumed the hair dye exhibited symptoms like swelling of face and neck, inability to breathe, acute kidney injury (AKI), proteinuria and arrhythmia. 51 of the 63 AKI cases required dialysis support, while more than half the patients required airway management including tracheostomy and mechanical ventilation.

“The hair dye is as toxic as rat poison or insect killing sprays when ingested, but we seldom attach due seriousness to it,” Dr. Mohan lamented.

What compounds the woes of the medical fraternity is the absence of ‘weight per volume’ details in the package insert of any hair dye bottle.

The toxic material is mentioned just as ‘below 4 ml’ etc. and the vagueness in quantification makes it difficult in ascertaining the quantity ingested and thus, the extent of damage caused to the body.

‘Keep out of reach of children’ may be a statutory instruction for any other package, but it has to be followed more strictly in the case of hair dyes containing PPD.