WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A French student had a severe allergic reaction after applying hair dye that made her head swell like a ‘light bulb’ and distending to the size of a melon.
- Although she patch-tested the product, she did not follow the recommended 48- hour testing for allergies.
- Hair dyes contain a 1-2 % paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which is not dangerous unless you have an allergy to it.
A student from Paris almost died when a DIY hair makeover went horribly wrong.
According to an interview with Le Parisien, 19-year-old Estelle suffered a severe allergic reaction after applying a hair dye to her head. Although she did a patch test of the product, she admitted not following the recommended 48-hour window, and just tested it for 30 minutes.
Immediately, her scalp started getting irritated followed by her head starting to swell. To calm the swelling, Estelle took antihistamines. The next morning, her head size increased to 24.8 inches, bigger than the average 22 inches. She said she started struggling to breathe and her head looked like a ‘light bulb’.
Estelle rushed to the emergency room when her tongue began to swell. She was injected with adrenaline and stayed there overnight. Though she has recovered since the incident, she wanted to caution other people on the risks of allergies to hair dyes through her story.
Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a common ingredient found in hair dyes especially in darker shades. It is also found in henna tattoos, photocopying and printing ink, dark-colored makeup and many more. Normally, PPD isn’t dangerous, unless you’re allergic to it. Only 2% concentration of PPD is allowed in hair dyes. Reportedly, the hair dye Estelle used had only 1 percent.
New York-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD said allergic reaction symptoms can range from mild to very severe anaphylactic shock, which in some cases can be fatal. Mild symptoms include itching and rash, while swelling of the face and tongue, difficulty in breathing and a drop of blood pressure are some of the more severe reactions.
Proper patch-testing is extremely essential when checking for an allergy says Dr. Jaliman.
She says the following should be done when using an at-home hair dye:
- Always start by washing your hands.
- Then unscrew the bottles and mix the tint and the developer in a container.
- Recap the tubes.
- Using a cotton swab, dab a small amount of dye to the bend of your elbow and let it air dry. Make sure it is not covered for the next 48 to 72 hours.
Jaliman also advises people with past skin sensitivity issues to wait for a longer time. Especially for people who are likely to react to certain ingredients, it is also suggested that they do more than one patch test because some people don’t react to just one.