Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Eczema and Perms

Q: I have eczema on hands and feet. My head is "ok". Can I get a perm?
A: In some cases, individuals have been known to develop allergic/contact eczema from chemical hair services like perms and haircolor applications. Depending on the cause of the eczema on your hands and feet (which may or may not be allergic/contact eczema) you should be very cautious when considering getting a permanent wave service.
Even if you don't have allergic/contact eczema, and yours is the hereditary atopic eczema, you should be cautious because your skin will be much more sensitive to the chemicals of a perm.
foot with eczema

If you are being treated by a physician for your eczema, it would be best to ask him or her if getting a perm would be "safe" for you. Even if you aren't currently under a physicians care for the eczema, consulting your doctor would not be a bad idea, and I highly recommend that you do so.
At the very least, you should talk to the stylist who is going to perform the service and arrange to have a "patch test" done a couple of days before you want to have the service. In a patch test, a small amount of the perming solution and the neutralizer will be swabbed in a spot on your scalp (usually the area right behind the ear is used) and allowed to dry and left for 24-48 hours. If you have any sensitivity to the chemicals, you will have a reaction in those spots. If there is no reaction, then you can probably feel safe with proceeding to get the perm.
Be sure that the stylist does a patch test on ALL the chemicals used in the perm. If the waving lotion has an activator ingredient make sure that it has been added to the waving lotion before patch testing. And, make sure the stylist tests for reaction to the neutralizer as well as any protein conditioning step involved in the particular perm.
I realize that this may seem like a lot of hassle, but I'm sure you agree (having suffered with the eczema on your hands and feet) that it's better than getting a perm and having a reaction all over your scalp.
Related posts:
Hair color allergies
Is using a relaxer safe for a woman who has eczema?