Woman’s Head Swells, Almost Doubles in Size Due to Allergic Reaction from Hair Dye

Raising awareness of the potential dangers of certain chemicals in household products, recently a young woman in France suffered from a horrific allergic reaction to some hair dye, and her head became swollen to the point of becoming nearly twice its normal size.

Paris native Estelle, 19 years old, reportedly started to feel something very wrong when she noticed difficulty breathing, and her scalp started to become afflicted with an unbearable itch.

Then her head started swelling, what usually happens to people when they suffer from a serious allergic reaction.

(Image credit: Le Parisien)

The English student, Estelle had experienced similar problems in the past, with a different type of hair dye, but unfortunately this experience was about to get much worse.

After making an attempt to negate the allergic reaction using some antihistamines, Estelle fell asleep and upon waking the next morning, she realized her tongue was severely swollen.

Worse, when she woke up she realized that her head had swollen up like a balloon, to a proportion that no one would ever want to experience.

(Image credit: Le Parisien)

She probably should have been treated sooner, so once the severity of her reaction to the common hair dye became really clear, Estelle was transported in a rush to the Mondor Hospital in Créteil. Reports say her condition still continued to deteriorate simply during the car journey, it was getting worse and worse with no end in sight so it’s a miracle they managed to make it in time.

They actually measured the circumference of her head during the ordeal, as odd as that sounds, and it was found that her puffed up, swollen head reached a massive 63 centimeters, or nearly 25 inches in circumference.

(Image credit: Le Parisien)

Estell said to Le Parisien that she “had the impression of being in a jar.” She continued: “I could not breathe I had a light bulb head.”

The doctors gave her a shot of adrenaline, and she was kept in the hospital overnight. She was considered to be safe and her condition was stable the next day.

So what exactly caused her to suffer such a severe allergic reaction? It was a chemical that is found in an estimated 90 percent of hair dyes: paraphenylenediamine (PPD). It’s a coal tar derivative, like a lot of dyes and products that have been on the market since the 1800’s in Europe when Henry Perkins discovered the first coal tar dye, mauveine, and this story has roots in the history of the pharmaceutical industry.

There’s something called a patch test that is used to make sure a person won’t be allergic or generally dissatisfied with their hair dye, and she waited only half an hour after the patch test before proceeding to fully dye her hair. It is said that people are recommended to wait for a decent 2 days after the patch test to fully go through with dying hair, but at the same time, it just sounds like a way to preserve a toxic and dangerous chemical in use in this setting.

A good question is, do people suffer from allergic reactions to this chemical actually so often that a patch test is more about seeing if that happens, than if the person is satisfied with the new color of their hair?

Naturally Estelle learned that hair dye is no joke and some chemicals are truly dangerous in this unpredictable type of way, so she said “I almost died, I don’t want something similar to happen to other people.”

Explaining that people need to understand more about the potential dangers of PPD, her mother named Sygrid said:

“It’s true that she didn’t follow the instructions word for word but the warning has to be clearer.” People have to know what chemicals they put on or inside their bodies, it’s that simple.

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