Pediatric Annals

Feature Article 

Avoiding Paraphenylenediamine Exposure in Children

Tamar Zapolanski, BA; Sharon E. Jacob, MD

Abstract

Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical substance that turns black in the presence of an oxidizer and functions effectively as permanent hair dye. Unfortunately, the intermediary state (partially oxidized) is highly sensitizing and has resulted in bullous contact dermatitis with scarring in some individuals. With an increased popularity of permanent hair dyeing among adolescents, PPD allergy has become more widespread and recognized in this group. Another important and unsuspecting source of PPD exposure in children is through temporary tattoo artistry. To increase the longevity of the temporary tattoo, many artists add PPD to the natural henna base compound. This practice notably darkens the pigment color from green/brown to dark brown/black, and accelerates the drying time of the tattoo. These tattoos are growing in popularity among children of all ages and provide a unique route of exposure to PPD that may lead to both sensitization and an untoward skin effect. In fact, severe cases of allergic reactions to temporary tattoos have been reported, primarily in the shape of the appliqué, and include contact dermatitis with resultant permanent pigmentary changes and scars.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Tamar Zapolanski, BA, is with Department of Dermatology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. Sharon E. Jacob, MD, is Assistant Clinical Professor Medicine and Pediatrics (Dermatology), University of California, San Diego, and Volunteer Clinical Associate Professor in Dermatology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Address correspondence to Sharon E. Jacob, MD: sjacob@contactderm.net.

Ms. Zapolanski and Dr. Jacob have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Abstract

Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical substance that turns black in the presence of an oxidizer and functions effectively as permanent hair dye. Unfortunately, the intermediary state (partially oxidized) is highly sensitizing and has resulted in bullous contact dermatitis with scarring in some individuals. With an increased popularity of permanent hair dyeing among adolescents, PPD allergy has become more widespread and recognized in this group. Another important and unsuspecting source of PPD exposure in children is through temporary tattoo artistry. To increase the longevity of the temporary tattoo, many artists add PPD to the natural henna base compound. This practice notably darkens the pigment color from green/brown to dark brown/black, and accelerates the drying time of the tattoo. These tattoos are growing in popularity among children of all ages and provide a unique route of exposure to PPD that may lead to both sensitization and an untoward skin effect. In fact, severe cases of allergic reactions to temporary tattoos have been reported, primarily in the shape of the appliqué, and include contact dermatitis with resultant permanent pigmentary changes and scars.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Tamar Zapolanski, BA, is with Department of Dermatology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. Sharon E. Jacob, MD, is Assistant Clinical Professor Medicine and Pediatrics (Dermatology), University of California, San Diego, and Volunteer Clinical Associate Professor in Dermatology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Address correspondence to Sharon E. Jacob, MD: sjacob@contactderm.net.

Ms. Zapolanski and Dr. Jacob have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical substance that turns black in the presence of an oxidizer and functions effectively as permanent hair dye. Unfortunately, the intermediary state (partially oxidized) is highly sensitizing and has resulted in bullous contact dermatitis with scarring in some individuals. With an increased popularity of permanent hair dyeing among adolescents, PPD allergy has become more widespread and recognized in this group. Another important and unsuspecting source of PPD exposure in children is through temporary tattoo artistry. To increase the longevity of the temporary tattoo, many artists add PPD to the natural henna base compound. This practice notably darkens the pigment color from green/brown to dark brown/black, and accelerates the drying time of the tattoo. These tattoos are growing in popularity among children of all ages and provide a unique route of exposure to PPD that may lead to both sensitization and an untoward skin effect. In fact, severe cases of allergic reactions to temporary tattoos have been reported, primarily in the shape of the appliqué, and include contact dermatitis with resultant permanent pigmentary changes and scars.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Tamar Zapolanski, BA, is with Department of Dermatology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida. Sharon E. Jacob, MD, is Assistant Clinical Professor Medicine and Pediatrics (Dermatology), University of California, San Diego, and Volunteer Clinical Associate Professor in Dermatology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.

Address correspondence to Sharon E. Jacob, MD: sjacob@contactderm.net.

Ms. Zapolanski and Dr. Jacob have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

10.3928/00904481-20080201-05

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