Hair straighteners can cause kidney failure

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 Hair straighteners can cause kidney failure

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Some salon hair straightening treatments can cause kidney failure, according to a recent study by Jerusalem doctors, which has already prompted the Israeli Ministry of Health to ban a number of such products. Israel is the first country to document multiple exposures and ban the products that caused it, according to Professor Linda Shavit of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, who led the study.

Last month, the Ministry of Health in Jerusalem banned all products containing glyoxylic acid, based on a preliminary study published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases. Professor Shavit predicted that many new cases of diseases caused by hair straightening would be discovered.

“We have documented 26 cases of acute kidney injury in the past three years, and the number of cases in Israel has risen to 38 since the study was conducted”,– she said. “Although we suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg for Israel and believe there are many cases elsewhere”.

Patients undergoing examination experienced abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and scalp rashes after using hair straighteners. The median age was 28, most had no previous health problems, and one of the women was pregnant.

“None of them died and the damage was reversible, but three young women were on dialysis within a few weeks, and some required an invasive kidney biopsy. Some spent time in intensive care, so this is serious, – said Professor Shavit.

Dangerous products contain glyoxylic acid, a common ingredient in so-called permanent hair straightening creams that last for several months.

“We have seen that glyoxylic acid can be absorbed into the skin and once it enters the bloodstream, it can be metabolized to oxalates, then get into our kidneys and cause damage, – Shavit explained. “There must have been a lot of mild cases that didn’t make it to the hospital. There may be many women who are asymptomatic but have kidney damage as a result of these products.

Professor Shavit believes the Israeli ban on glyoxylic acid treatments will save lives and hopes everyone salons will abide by it and refrain from using these products.

“It is important to raise awareness among women, as well as stylists and hairdressers, to ensure that they only use approved procedures and adhere to manufacturer's instructions”,– she said.

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