‘I almost died’: Woman’s head swells into ‘lightbulb’ after using hair dye

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A 19-year-old woman says she just narrowly escaped death after her head swelled “like a light bulb” because of an allergic reaction to a substance found in 90 percent of DIY hair-dying products.

Estelle, an English student from Paris, had wanted to carry out the simple transition from blonde to brunette and had bought a common hair dying product from the supermarket so she could do it herself.

But the hair makeover went drastically wrong when she had an allergic reaction to paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical commonly used within the DIY dye.

At first, Estelle felt a sudden itch on her scalp a couple of hours after she applied the color on Friday two weeks ago. After seeking help from a pharmacist she was given a stack of antihistamines and a cream.

By Sunday morning, however, the top of her head had swollen to an abnormal size.

“I was struggling to breathe,” Estelle told French newspaper Le Parisien.

“My forehead had doubled in volume. My head was like a light bulb.”

When her tongue started swelling too, she was rushed to hospital, where the circumference of her head had topped 63cm. The average is 56.

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The bloated-face woman was then immediately cared for and was able to return home after taking corticosteroids and antihistamines.

But her head only carried on swelling. “I had the impression of being in a jar,” Estelle said.

Then her condition started to deteriorate. Her tongue swelled, her heart started pacing and her breathing became difficult.

She was saved thanks to a shot of adrenaline at a hospital where she spent the night and was out of danger by the following day.

“I almost died, I don’t want something similar to happen to other people,” Estrella said, who now wants to spread the warning about the apparent dangers of the supermarket dye.

She had carried out a skin test before applying the product, but only waited 30 minutes rather than the recommended 48 hours.

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Her mother said: “It’s true that she didn’t follow the instructions word for word but the
warning has to be clearer.”

PPD in hair dye products is legal, but banned in makeup and cosmetics. Concentration levels must be limited to a maximum of 2 percent.

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