Courtesy of the Daily Mail Reporter
Hair dye horror as student’s head swells up like ‘Elephant Woman’ By DAILY MAIL REPORTER –
More by this author » Last updated at 19:05pm on 21st March 2007 Comments (19) A schoolgirl feared she was going to die after she was disfigured by a hair dye which she says left her looking like the Elephant Woman. Stacy Ditroia, 16, struggled to breathe and was unable to see after her head and neck swelled up.
Scroll down for more Stacy Ditroia: Hairdye caused her face to puff up like the ‘Elephant Woman’ The allergic reaction was caused by a £10 L’Oreal treatment which she had used to turn her hair chocolate brown.
She was taken to hospital where doctors managed to stop the swelling, but Stacy says she has been left emotionally scarred. "I did the 48-hour patch test behind my ear and there was no reaction, so two days later I put the dye on my hair," she said. "But soon afterwards my scalp started itching horribly. I wanted to tear my head off.
The following day my hairline went bright red, I felt really hot, and the sides of my neck hurt as if the glands were swollen. "I told my mum that she should still go to work, but when I looked in the mirror it was horrific. I looked deformed. My head and eyes were swollen and I was sure I was going to die. I phoned my mum." Her mother Frances, 33, a nursery manager, from Brixton, South London, said: "I was met by the most horrific sight I had ever seen. "I called an ambulance which took Stacy to hospital where they put her straight on intravenous anti-histamines and steroids." The treatment made the swelling move down through Stacy’s face to the back of her neck. She said: "It crushed my windpipe and I found it difficult to breathe."
Eventually the reaction stabilised, and Stacy was allowed home but had to take steroids and anti-histamines every day for a week. She said: "My relatives said I looked like the elephant woman. I still feel self-conscious."
L’Oreal told Stacy that a chemical called para-phenylenediamine in the colorant was the likely cause of the reaction. It has offered to pay for her to have tests. A spokesman said: "Consumer safety is always our first priority and all our hair colorants are safe when used according to the instructions." The company added: "Potential reactions can be detected by carrying out the skin allergy test as directed, 48 hours before using the product, every time it is used."
Here’s another story
Allergic reactions to hair dyes are on the rise
There has been a doubling of allergic reactions in testing in the last few years as more – and younger – people dye their hair.
The reactions trigger skin rashes on the face and in severe cases can cause facial swelling. Researchers writing in the British Medical Journal today are calling for more research on the safety and composition of hair dyes.
They claim cultural and commercial pressures are putting people at risk, with rising numbers regularly using permanent hair dye – some of which contain ingredients banned in other countries.
Increasing numbers of people are colouring their hair, with older people using dyes to cover grey and a fashion among the young for dramatic hairstyles.
More than two-thirds of hair dyes currently contain para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and other related agents.
But during the 20th century, allergic reactions to PPD became such a serious problem that it was banned from hair dyes in Germany, France and Sweden.
Currently EU legislation allows PPD to comprise up to six per cent of the constituents of hair dyes on the consumer market, but no satisfactory or widely accepted alternatives to these agents are available for use in permanent hair dye.
Dr John McFadden, senior lecturer at St John’s Institute of Dermatology, St Thomas’s Hospital, London, said anecdotal reports by skin specialists suggest a rising proportion of positive reactions to PPD in skin patch tests.
A recent survey in London found a doubling in frequency over six years to 7.1 per cent in a clinic for adults with contact dermatitis, or skin rashes, and this has been found in other countries, he said.
He said: "This rise could not be attributed to an increase in occupational exposure in hairdressers, medicolegal claims, or the use of temporary ‘henna’ tattoos containing high concentrations of PPD – often when on holiday."
Market research shows more people are dyeing their hair and at a younger age.
One survey in 1992, by a soap and detergent association found 13 per cent of schoolgirls used hair colouring products, along with six per cent of womens.
By 2001, the numbers had soared, with two out of five schoolgirls dyeing their hair and almost nine in 10 young women.
"Furthermore female high school students and young women were dyeing their hair at shorter intervals" said Dr McFadden.
Severe hair dye reactions among children have also been reported.
Dr McFadden, and colleagues in the UK, Germany and Denmark, say a debate among professionals and the public is overdue.
He said "Cultural and commercial pressures to dye hair and, perhaps, the widespread obsession with the ‘culture of youth’ are putting people at risk and increasing the burden on the health services. "It may not be easy to reverse these trends, however, as some pateints have continued to use such dyes even when advised they are allergic to them and risk severe reactions" he added.
Lindsey McManus of Allergy UK said the charity was being contacted by growing numbers of hair dye victims.
She said "In particular, people have been exposed to PPD and suffered a reaction.
"They think if they’ve been using hair dye for some time without a problem, that will always be the case.
"But you can become sensitised at any point. We’ve had callers who had henna tattoos done on beach holidays which must have contained hair dye with PPD, because they’ve suffered a reaction after using a hair dye when they get home.
"We always advise people to do a skin patch test at least 48 hours before using any product as it can take that long to cause a reaction."
The hair dye industry says hair colourants are among the most thoroughly studied products on the market and millions of customers satisfactorily colour their hair every year.
Schoolboy Jack Taylor’s head ballooned to the size of a football after he dyed his hair black on New Year’s Eve.
The 15-year-old suffered an extreme allergic reaction after he applied the L’Oreal hair product.
He was taken to hospital where he was given steroids and antihistamine tablets.
Although he was told his symptoms would clear up in four days, he still had a nasty rash on his head, face and torso two weeks later.
Jack, who lives near Harrogate, had used hair dye before without any trouble and claimed he applied the skin allergy test before using the latest product.
His face started to swell and he could not believe what he saw in the mirror.
He said: "My head has swelled up to the size of a football and looked very strange. I took my hat off andmy dad took one look at me and said ‘Bloody hell what’s happened to you?".
Jack’s father drove him to Harrogate District Hospital where doctors diagnosed a severe allergic reaction.
A spokesman for L’Oreal said product safety was of "paramount importance".
"Although extremely rare, it is possible for a very small number of people to react to a hair colourant ingredient, which is why we stress very clearly on our packs that consumers should carry out a skin allergy test each time they colour their hair," she said.
Receptionist wins payout in ‘Klingon’ hair dye allergy case
- Receptionist Claire Godwin, 23, from Ardwick, bought a bottle of Clairol Nice ‘n’ Easy after deciding to dye her light brown hair blonde.
But just a day after using it, her head suddenly began to itch and weep and became so swollen she was taken to hospital.
• Allergic reactions to hair dyes are on the rise
One doctor at Manchester Royal Infirmary described her as looking like a "Klingon alien out of Star Trek" and she was kept under observation after being diagnosed with severe allergic contact dermatitis.
The incident in February 2006 left her with brittle hair and clumps of it now fall out whenever she has a bath or brushes it.
Today Claire spoke of her ordeal after getting £4,500 in an out-of-court settlement after taking legal action against the manufacturers.
She claims she followed the instructions carefully and did a skin sensitivity test two days before applying the product to her scalp.
Claire who lives in Ardwick, Manchester with her three year old son Lewis and who bought the product from a supermarket near her home said: "I just wanted a change of image but the pain was awful.
"At first I could feel something wet trickling down my forehead. I put my hand up and felt that it was water.
"I just wiped it off, but later on it started trickling more and more and pretty soon it was constantly coming down my forehead and the back of my neck.
"I felt like my head was on fire. My scalp wept so much I had to put towels on my pillows. My eyes swelled up so much that I could hardly see."
"My brother said my head and swollen up like a baloon and I had to go to hospital. He was so pale and he looked terrified so I immediately agreed.
"We went straight to A&E and as I sat there I could feel my head getting worse and worse. It was like my temples were coming out and people were staring at me.
"It started pushing on my eyes and the doctors were worried. I saw three doctors altogether and eventually one of the consultants gave me a course of steroids.
"He was trying to put me at ease and making me laugh telling me I looked like an alien or Klingon out of Star Trek. I had to laugh otherwise I was going to cry."
Claire was ordered to take steroids over the next four days until the swelling started to go down.
She added: "My scalp wept continuously for days – it felt like I had ants walking on my head – and is still tender. The hair that has grown back is grey and I’m only young so this is particularly upsetting.
"I was ill for about ten days. The reaction started about two days after I had used the dye. I went to my doctors first and then hospital. My head was very sore, and the pain reduced me to tears.
"My dermatologist explained to me that I could have had a reaction after the first time I used or the 100th – that is why it is so alarming.
"It’s scary knowing that hair dyes are so readily available when they can do so much damage.
"I know myself from dying my hair at school that young girls can go and pick one of these products up without knowing what’s in them. There is no age limit on them.
"There are dangerous chemicals in these dyes and there needs to be more warnings to people so that girls know the dangers.
"There are vegetable hair dyes available, but I won’t ever dye my hair again now. It’s just not worth it.
"It’s even left me scared to go to the hairdressers, as I don’t trust anyone to touch my hair.
"I received £4,500 compensation in an out of court settlement from Clairol in the end, but it’s not about the money for me.
"The regrowth of my hair is grey and my hair falls out when I have a bath or brush it. Even when I massage my scalp my hand is just covered in hair. It’s very brittle now.
"My hair will never be the same again and I want something to be done to prevent this from happening to anyone else."
Lawyer Victoria Johnson, a partner at Betesh Fox in Manchester, who represented Claire, said: "The number of allergic reactions to hair dye has doubled in the last six years.
"The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association has been forced to issue safety advice to consumers about applying hair dye. All of this points to the fact there is a very serious problem in the industry."
Claire was examined by an independent medical expert whose report said: "Permanent hair dye preparations are probably the most hazardous materials used within the cosmetic industry."
A spokeswoman for the manufacturers, Procter and Gamble, said: "We are unable to comment on the details of this case.
"However, we were obviously very concerned to hear about this young woman’s experience.
"Hair colorants are extensively researched to ensure they are safe when used as directed, and many millions of women colour their hair many times each year without any reaction."
It is understood the company agreed to the compensation payment without accepting liability.