Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"Are perms safe for children?"

ZocdocAnswersAre perms safe for children?


One of my friends is getting her daughter a perm, and the girl is only four. To me this seems weird just for body-issues reasons, but I also want to know if it's safe to expose kids that young to the chemicals used in perms.


The chemicals that are used in permanent curling treatments are very strong, and they are unsafe for anyone who is exposed to them. Any entry of the chemicals into the mouth, eyes, nose, or elsewhere can be potentially harmful. In order to minimize this danger while getting a permanent curling treatment, it is very important for the person having the treatment to cooperate closely with the stylist, remain still, avoid touching the mouth and eyes, etc. The concern with giving a permanent to a small child is that it can be very difficult to guarantee their cooperation. One concern would be that the child would become restless or angry and this could result in accidental ingestion of the product or accidentally getting the product into the eyes. The skin and hair of small children is also thinner and finer than the skin and hair of an adult, which can lead to a greater risk of chemical burns or irritation of the skin. As you also mention, one concern about extensive beauty treatments in small children is potentially reinforcing a message that they have to modify their bodies in order to be seen as beautiful, a message which is not affirming to the child's own healthy self development.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.