View Full Version : Allergic to my shampoo?

March 24th, 2013, 05:37 PM
The title says it all. I'm allergic to tons of things and get allergy injections once a week to build an immunity to it.
I get hives from tons of things. I get hives from laying in grass, from certain fabrics, from some perfume I just disagree with...you know.
I even get hives when I'm really nervous.

That said, I noticed that every time I wash my hair I get hives EVERYWHERE my hair touches me.
Down my back, all over my shoulders, and the worst on my neck and chest.
Big, blotchy, angry patches. I look like a strange giraffe.

I don't wash my hair every day, but I do shower daily.
Every time I wash my hair, I condition too.

Could it be my hair products?
I don't but anything else on that area. My acne wash- prescription- on occasion, because I have this awesome ability to break out anywhere,
but I've never noticed that worsening/creating the issue.
I don't put body wash on my neck, because I don't want to get it in my hair.

I don't know what to do. I thought it might be my shampoo, but my scalp doesn't get inflamed.
So it may be my conditioner?

It's never irritated me before, but now that I wash my hair before school, I'd have to wear scarves for nobody to notice...

March 24th, 2013, 06:30 PM
It could be either. Your scalp may just not be as sensitive as the rest of your body (that would be opposite most people, but stranger things have definitely happened!)

I would patch test with both on the inside of your elbow...one on one arm and one on the other and see what happens.

March 25th, 2013, 11:18 AM
You need to see a specialist. Ask your GP for a referral. If you are having hives, it could even be something that you are eating. Are you using any new washing powder? Are you eating something different? Unfortunately allergies can occur at any time and any age, and sometimes the source is not discovered :( Do you have any pets? If you are you could have built up an allergy to them. I'd stay away from all scented stuff for now and see a doctor. In the mean time antihistamines can help with the hives. Hope you find a solution soon :)

March 25th, 2013, 11:20 AM
Sorry I just read you have injections. I still think you need an expert opinion though from a specialist since you are still having problems.

March 25th, 2013, 11:34 AM
Lots of shampoos use plant oils. I'm guessing there are plants you're sensitive to. Herbal Essences shampoo used to make me itch like crazy. Have you tried just baking soda? That might give you some relief. It's very likely there's something in your shampoo or conditioner that is triggering a reaction.

March 25th, 2013, 11:37 AM
I echo going to a doctor. It really could be the products.

March 25th, 2013, 01:53 PM
It's funny you mention Herbal Essences, because even though I have been getting hives from any shampoo so far,
that was the one I recently used that gave me the worst hives.
I really like what it did for my hair though...

edited to add:
as for plant allergies, I was tested for allergies to the common stuff.
Ragweed, Queen Anne's Lace, Kentucky Blue Grass, June Grass, Bermuda Grass, and pollen from trees.
I was highly allergic to all of them, haha!

March 25th, 2013, 02:11 PM
I would be very cautious about "natural" or "herbal" products. I would consider finding a hypoallergenic, fragrance free shampoo and conditioner. A lot of heavy fragrances, especially "natural" floral ones make me itch. I have to stay away from a lot of natural products because of my allergies to natural things like almonds, certain flowers and fruits. I can't tell you how many products I wish I could try that have sweet almond oil or macadamia oil in them, but I just can't.

March 25th, 2013, 02:16 PM
@Salmonberry: yeah, I'll have to look into that!
That said, I was looking forward to trying henna on my hair...
I'll have to do a patch test on my leg or something so nobody can really see it, haha.

March 25th, 2013, 02:54 PM
@Salmonberry: yeah, I'll have to look into that!
That said, I was looking forward to trying henna on my hair...
I'll have to do a patch test on my leg or something so nobody can really see it, haha.

Definitely do a skin test if you're going to try henna. Though allergic reactions to henna are rare, it can happen. If you're allergic to a lot of plants/grasses then proceed with caution.

heidi w.
March 25th, 2013, 03:21 PM
Just apply conditiner to the length only, not on the scalp whatsoever.
heidi w.

March 25th, 2013, 05:18 PM
Thanks @Salmonberry. I was planning on using Lush's Caca Marron, and the first ingredient, according to their website, is moss...?
And @heidi w.: my hair is thick, so I never do put conditioner on my scalp. It gives me greasy looking roots, although it does make my hair softer...

Sorry for all of the "@usernames", my computer always freaks out when I try to quote people, and I don't know why.

March 25th, 2013, 06:32 PM
I don't know what to do. I thought it might be my shampoo, but my scalp doesn't get inflamed.
So it may be my conditioner?

It's never irritated me before, but now that I wash my hair before school, I'd have to wear scarves for nobody to notice...

Try leaving your hair alone in the shower (put it up), and try washing it in a sink or over the tub. That way no hair touches any part of your body when you wash it. Less chances of an allergic reaction.

March 25th, 2013, 08:02 PM
Even though you say you don't notice the acne medication making it worse... it can make your skin very sensitive - especially as use goes on... And the fact that the conditioner break out is new... I would look into that being a factor in the severity of your issue. You're already sensitive to a lot of things, and I reckon the medication is making your skin more vulnerable to those irritants. You also say that you don't apply it to your neck (I think you're referring to the acne wash and not just regular body wash? Either way)... Well I also didn't apply my acne medication to my green bathmat, but somehow it grew little white foot prints :o. It's serious stuff that seriously got everywhere. So yes, look into that.

As far as your S&C goes (or just conditioner goes), if you can't find anything commercial that doesn't bother you, castile soap (dr. bronner's or CV has a shampoo bar) and ACV rinses seem like a non-allergenic option.

If you do decide to go on a commercial product rampage to find something you like, pay close attention to what's in them and if you get a strong reaction, learn to avoid products with those ingredients.

Odd things give me hives too... fabric softener is a big issue for me... new blue jeans... and watermelon... and only one (yes, only one. The other one doesn't bother me in the least :p) of my guinea pigs.

Hope you find something that works! :blossom:

March 27th, 2013, 12:53 PM
^I thought I was the only one who had a problem with new jeans! Haha.
Thank you for your advice. I wanted to try shampoo bars, but I don't know if I'd handle them well.

March 27th, 2013, 05:13 PM
Everyone else's advice is a good start. Hives are a warning sign of an anaphylactic allergy, so you absolutely need to see a doctor about this. Anaphylaxis is totally unfun and very scary for the EMTs who have to try and save your life. We do not need to scare the nice EMTs.

A pretty huge share of product reactions are due to fragrances. The reaction could be to your laundry detergent, your shampoo, your conditioner, your body wash, deodorant, household cleaning product scents... The list goes on and on and on. So I can pretty well promise you the doctor is going to want you to switch to all fragrance free and hypoallergenic products. The product list they give you won't necessarily be much good tho. There aren't a lot of fragrance free conditioners, and most doctors that deal with this kind of thing don't see it as a problem. For a long time, I got by with scented conditioner. These days I have a pretty good choice of fragrance free products from a local independent pharmacy. The two I like best are Alba Botanica's Leave In Conditioner and Alaffia's Everyday Shea Conditioner. My local place screams "for granola loving hippies" from the outside, but inside it's got one of the best product selections in town, and testers and knowledgable staff everywhere. Between my fragrance issues and my partner's psoriasis, they're a godsend and we give them all the business we can.

Shampoo is fairly easy to find in fragrance free options by comparison. Neutrogena T-gel is pretty widely available, and there are a couple others available almost everywhere. My current experiment is various baby shampoo/bodywash products. Aveeno, California Baby and some other brands have several that are fairly curl friendly formulations and fragrance free. No SLS, gentle detergents and so on. So far, it's working out fairly well for me.

It's pretty easy to find fragrance free laundry detergent. Fabric softener is a chore, and most cleaning products are even more of a chore. I wind up buying a lot of 7th Generation cleaning products since they're the only brand I've found to regularly offer things like dishwasher detergent and window cleaner in fragrance free options.

If eliminating fragrances fixes things, this does NOT mean you're doomed forever to a scentless existence. You can experiment and patch test judiciously to track down things that work. For me, chances are if I can eat it, the fragrance ingredients are fine too. (I do react to cinnamon oil even when very dilute, but it's a major skin irritant and it'd be weird if I didn't react) Your body will be different from mine, but you can figure out what works and what's worth the risk to you.

March 28th, 2013, 06:17 PM
Thanks a lot for your advice! I'll have to look for those products you suggested.
And even though I love cinnamon, yeah, I've heard the horror stories about itchy scalps from it too.
Scared me away from trying to mix it with anything!

ETA: Interesting that your partner has psoriasis. My stepfather has severe plaque psoriasis- perhaps I'll try converting him to some of the new stuff I'll be trying out!

March 28th, 2013, 07:37 PM
I am allergic to Devacurl shampoo and conditioner. I'm also allergic to the Loreal Ever Pure products. I first noticed a mild scalp itchyness. Thought nothing of it. Then I noticed my lady parts and bum where itching like crazy. I contacted my doctor and asked what he thought. Did a patch test and discovered I was allergic. The ladypart itching was a result of the product washing down my back into my crack... Although I rinse myself really well at the end the skin down there is most tender and as a result was still affected in spite of the rinse.

It is absolutly possible you could be allergic to your shampoo.

I have to use clear and free detergents. Aveeno sensitive skin wash. Drug store skincare products make my face red and itchy. I have to be so careful about everything. It sucks so much to hace allergies. I feel your pain.

Side note. I am also allergic to grass. I am so glad I'm not the only one. Everyone looks at me either one of two ways when I tell them . either the OMG face or the you poor thing face. I can't cut my lawn without having to stop every five mins to scrub my arms because the grass clipping turn me beat red and I start itching like crazy.. washing helps but it's still so annoying...

March 28th, 2013, 07:38 PM
.......can't figure how to delete double post

March 28th, 2013, 08:47 PM
I know people who can't use shampoo or conditioner as well. Google Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. There are also some threads in TLHC by chemically sensitive members. Annalouise was one who had started some threads for those with chemical sensitivities. Seriously consider BS/ACV or Water Only at least for the time being.

March 28th, 2013, 09:29 PM
My husband has similar sounding sensitivities. He uses J&J baby shampoo and body wash without a problem, but has no need for a conditioner. Good luck finding something that works.

April 3rd, 2013, 01:09 PM
Your experience sounds exactly like mine last year. After using the same brand for years I suddenly developed a reaction everytime I shampooed. I went no-poo, using just baking soda and apple cider vinegar which my hair loved (after the first 2 weeks). But that's not easy to travel with. (TSA looks at you oddly for bringing white powdered substances with you in your carry-on). So I finally searched and found some hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner. Free & Clear by Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc. It's not made by a "beauty" company, but one that specializes in hypoallergenic products, like soap and sunscreen. I found it at Walgreens ($10/12oz) but your local pharmacist can order it for you too. The National Allergy Board has a trial size offer for $3, I think.

It seems like it does weight down my hair a bit, but I think that's because I was so used to the BS/ACV routine.