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Hair dye products are being extensively used worldwide to enhance an individual outlook. More than two thirds of hair dyes currently contain PPD (paraphenelenediamine) which is a potent allergen and also a carcinogen as demonstrated in experimental studies. With the paucity of existing scientific evidence among the Indian population on hair dye use and in the current scenario safety of hair-coloring agents being a matter of active debate impelled us to take up the present study.


To assess the prevailing practices, perception and knowledge of hair dye use and also to know the profile of adverse drug reactions to hair dye use.

Materials and methods

A cross sectional study was conducted between October 2015- December 2016. A pre validated questionnaire containing 30 questions was administered to doctors and nurses working at Victoria, Vani Vilas, Bowring and Minto hospital attached to Bangalore medical college and research institute. The data tabulated was analyzed using descriptive statistics.


A total of 130 doctors and 196 nurses participated in the study with an overall response rate of 79.5%. The age at which the participants started using hair dyes was 21-30 years among doctors and < 20 years among nurses with a frequency of  use being ≥5 times /year in both the groups. 63% of doctors and 80.6% of nurses used the hair dye to cover the gray hairs with the natural hair color being the most preferred option. Most of the participants i.e 64.6% of doctors and 73.97% of nurses used synthetic hair color with synthetic semi-permanent being the most commonly used hair dye although they opined that natural hair dyes are safe. An alarming issue observed in the study was that 69.2% of nurses and 52.30% of doctors never performed an allergy test prior to its use taking into consideration that PPD is a very potent allergen. Adverse drug reactions (ADR) was reported by 15.9% participants with itching (5.47%), rash (2.43%) and watering from eyes and nose (1.835) being the commonest ADR. 26.9% of the reactions were seen immediately and 19.2% sought medical treatment of whom 1.9% required hospitalization with duration of hospital stay being 1-2 days. There was uncertainty with regards to its safety, risk of cancer and safety during pregnancy and lactation in the medical fraternity.


Hair dye use was started at an early age and majority used synthetic hair dyes although they perceived that natural ones are safe. Adverse drug reactions noted were minor and provided the potential of PPD to cause life threatening reactions it is essential to increase the awareness regarding its adverse effect profile among the public and health care professionals. Further large scale studies need to be conducted to create a database regarding the hypersensitivity reactions and associated cancer risk which will help governing bodies in cosmetic industry to take sappropriate measures in India.


Hair dye PPD (paraphenylenediamine) Semi-permanent hair dyes Permanent hair dyes

Article Details

How to Cite
Jayanthi C R, Divyashree R N, Vijayalakshmi, Dharani S, & Soumya R. (2021). A cross sectional study of hair dye use among doctors and nurses working at a tertiary care centre. International Journal of Research in Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics, 7(1), 85-96. Retrieved from


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