French Woman, 19, Warns Others About Hair Dye After Her Head Swells to Large Size

November 29, 2018 Updated: November 29, 2018

A French woman shared photos of her swollen head as a warning to others after she suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction to hair dye.

The 19-year-old woman, identified only as Estelle, said a chemical in the dye known as Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) caused the allergic reaction, reported Le Parisien.

Estelle said she performed a test patch of the product, but she said she left it on for only 30 minutes. The recommended time to leave it on is 48 hours.

“I made a mistake, and I want to say to others, do not be like me,” she told the publication, according to a translation.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine says that some people have “severe reactions” when interacting with PPD products, adding that “testing remains the gold standard method for confirming PPD allergy.” PPD is also found in dark makeup, lipstick, henna tattoos, and other products.

Estelle said she experienced irritation almost immediately on her scalp before the swelling began. She took antihistamines, but the next day, her head had swollen by a considerable amount, according to Yahoo Lifestyle’s translation of the Parisien report.

Estelle told the news outlet: “I could not breathe. I had a lightbulb head.”

Her tongue also swelled, she added.

The report said she then went to the emergency room and was given a shot of adrenaline. She stayed there overnight as the swelling went down, the report siad.

“I almost died,” Estelle said. “I do not want this to happen to others.”

PPD “is an important constituent of hair dye toxicity of which one could herald fatal complications such as rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, angioneurotic edema, and respiratory failure,” according to the National Library of Medicine.

But she and her mother said the warnings on the package are too small. “Who can read that?” her mother asked.

A scientist warned that PPD is well-known in the medical community as something that causes adverse reactions. “I’ve seen disfigured patients. But cases as extreme as Estelle remain rare,” Dr. Catherine Oliveres-Ghouti, a member of the National Union of Dermatologists, told Le Parisien. She said 2 to 3 percent of the population is allergic.

Hairdressers are the ones who are most affected, she said, because “when they become allergic, there is no solution.” She added: “They just have to change jobs. It is an occupational disease.”

“We’ve sent out a lot of warnings about it,” she said.

According to NHS England, “Some people are prone to a skin reaction called contact dermatitis. This means their skin becomes red, dry and irritated (inflamed) when they come into contact with a particular substance. The substance may either be an irritant, directly damaging the skin, or an allergen, triggering an allergic reaction that affects the skin. Many permanent and some semi-permanent hair dyes contain a chemical called paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which is a known irritant and allergen. This is the culprit of most reactions to hair dye.”

It said that people who have had a black henna tattoo are particularly at risk.

Top photo credit: Dean Wissing via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.