Any pregnant woman who dyes her hair has probably wondered whether it would be safe for the baby if the mother were exposed to hair dye. Even asking a doctor for the answer doesn't always help because doctors have differing views on the subject.
Before people understood how many chemicals actually get past the placenta and affect the baby, women didn't worry much about what chemicals they exposed themselves to. But during the 1970s, many substances were found to harm fetuses, including certain medications and some toxic chemicals commonly found in the home. Since then, many women have been worried about the chemicals they come into contact with, including those in hair dyes.
Hair dyes often contain bleach to lighten the hair. They also generally contain a mixture of chemicals like dihydroxybenzene, which may be harmful if consumed. However, placing the dyes on your hair means that the perceived danger is in absorbing the chemicals through the bloodstream. Some doctors worry that any amount of hair dye being absorbed through the skin is potentially harmful while many doctors tell their patients that dyeing their hair will result in absorbing a negligible amount of these chemicals.
The main danger of dyeing the hair at any time, pregnant or not, is inhaling potentially toxic fumes from the hair dye. The package directions of any hair dye will instruct you to dye your hair only when you have good ventilation. Many of the chemicals that are in hair dyes have strong odors that may cause respiratory discomfort or may aggravate asthma and other lung conditions if too much is inhaled. Keep a window open or a bathroom fan running to ensure that the fumes will not be inhaled to excess.
One way to avoid any potential problems or guilty feelings about dying your hair while pregnant is to use methods that don't require the dye to come into direct contact with your skin. There are techniques like highlights, lowlights and frosting that place the dye on some surface portions of the hair but that don't require it to be applied to the scalp.
Anyone who has an open sore or wound on her scalp should not use hair dye, particularly when pregnant. This can cause much more of the chemicals in the dye to get into the bloodstream than would ordinarily happen. It can also irritate the skin and create a painful burning sensation. If you know there is a sore on your scalp, wait until it's healed before dyeing your hair. If you aren't sure if there's a sore there, have your hair dresser take a look and make sure that there are no wounds that need to heal.