My eyes swelled shut and it felt like a million ants were burrowing into my head after an allergic reaction to hair dye

My eyes swelled shut and it felt like a million ants were burrowing into my head after an allergic reaction to hair dye

A WOMAN was left unable to open her eyes after an allergic reaction to hair dye caused her face to balloon and she was left with burning itching sores on her scalp for three weeks.


Julie Yacoub, 37, from Perth, Western Australia, used to dye her hair regularly with no problems or signs of reaction.


Julie Yacoub was left feeling like she was being bitten by a "million bull ants" after having an allergic reaction to her hair dye


But the following morning her eyes had almost completely closed shut and she went to the hospital

On October 30, 2019, she mixed the dye and applied it; she had no itching or tingling during or immediately after the application so assumed everything was OK.


Whilst at work the next day she noticed her neck was itching and asked a colleague to look who told her she had burns on her neck.


Worried she was having an allergic reaction, Julie took an antihistamine tablet to counteract it but later that evening she felt pressure in her head so booked an appointment to see her GP the next day.

But things continued to get worse.


The sales assistant first spotted burn marks on her neck

The doctors explained that allergic reactions only get worse with age

Julie explained: “Friday morning came and I had a definite lump on the side of my head and lots of pressure building up so the doctor prescribed me with steroid tablets and told me I was having a severe reaction.


“I thought I would be OK and the allergy would be out of my system by now after fifteen years but the doctor informed me after that once you have a reaction then the next ones will be worse and worse.


“As the day and night went on the deformity got worse and the pressure build up was very uncomfortable.


“Throughout Friday night and early hours Saturday morning the swelling around my eyes was getting really bad and by 5am Saturday morning I was unable to open one of my eyes and the other eyelid had almost closed over also.


Julie was left with an itching and burning scalp from the reaction

She had suffered an allergic reaction to a chemical found in most hair dyes called paraphenylenediamine (PPD)

“On Saturday morning when I woke up and couldn't open my eyes my initial reaction was panic. I contacted my mum who took me to hospital.”


At the hospital Julie was told that the antihistamines and steroids she was already on would bring the reaction under control, she was prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection due to the fluid building in her face.


Julie continued: “By this time on the way to the hospital at approximately 6:45am Saturday morning I could barely see anything as I had a tiny opening only to see out of.


“The hospital couldn’t really do much more as I was not anaphylactic so they said the steroids and antihistamines I was on would eventually bring the swelling and fluid under control.

“As well as the fluid and swelling, I had sores and burns over my whole scalp and a dermatitis like flaky scalp.


“The itching and burning on my scalp was unbearable and was like I was being bitten by a million bull ants at once.



Always carry out a patch test before using a permanent or semi-permanent hair dye, even if you are using your regular brand.


This usually involves dabbing a small amount of the dye solution behind your ear or on your inner elbow and leaving it to dry.

Follow the instructions that come with the dye.

If you develop any irritation or feel unwell after the patch test, do not use the product.

Source: NHS


“The itching and burning lasted the longest of all and I would say overall it took three weeks for the sores to heal and the itching/burning to stop.


“Even now I still get itchy and flaky from the contact the dermatitis has caused on my scalp.”

Julie suffered an allergic reaction to a chemical found in most hair dyes called paraphenylenediamine (PPD).


Many permanent and some semi-permanent hair dyes contain chemical PPD, which is known as an irritant and allergen. Dyes containing PPD are usually perfectly safe to use.


The ordeal has put Julie off ever dying her hair again and she would only ever consider using a plant based, chemical free dye in future - she can’t stress the importance of doing a patch test enough.


“From what the doctors have told me you can just develop an allergy as you get older and I am prone to other allergies (cats, dogs, grass) etc so as you get older your body just develops other allergies,” said Julie.


“I would never dye my hair again. I am frightened as to what the next reaction could be. In fact the doctors have advised me that the next reaction will be worse.





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