Julie Yacoub's face ballooned to double its size and her scalp was covered in burning sores after an allergic reaction to hair dye.
Julie Yacoub's face ballooned to double its size and her scalp was covered in burning sores after an allergic reaction to hair dye.

Hair dye leaves woman’s face ‘like balloon’

A woman was left unable to open her eyes after an allergic reaction to hair dye caused her face to balloon and left her scalp covered in burning, itching sores for three weeks.

Julie Yacoub, from Perth, used to dye her hair regularly as a teenager without experiencing any signs of a reaction.

But when she was 22, she had her hair dyed at a salon and encountered mild some problems afterwards. Despite this, she said she believed would be fine to dye her hair again.

In October, the 37-year-old sales manager revealed she bought a packet of hair dye to cover some grey hair that had started to appear - without worrying there may be complications.

She said she mixed the product, which developed in 15 minutes and applied this to her scalp, without noticing any signs of itching or irritation.

But the next day she said noticed "burn marks" started appearing on her neck, and worried she was reacting, took an antihistamine tablet to counteract this.



However, despite acting quickly, by the following day Julie said she had a "definite lump on the side of my head and lots of pressure building" and after visiting her GP was told she was having a severe reaction and was prescribed with steroids.

"I thought I would be okay 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."

She said throughout that night and into the early hours of the following day, the swelling around her eyes became worse and that later in the day it was so bad one eyelid had completely closed over.



"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,' Julie said.

At the hospital she was told that the antihistimes and steroids she was already on would bring the reaction under control, so 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 antihistimes 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.


"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."


"Unless I could get some type of plant based or vegetable based dye without the chemicals then I will never dye my hair again."

Julie said she urges anyone who thinks they may be sensitive to chemicals to do a patch test first so they don't have to suffer like she did.

"The reason I wanted to share my story is to inform people that this is real and can happen.

"Most people only read about this happening to someone else, never happening to themselves but this can happen to anyone even if you never had a reaction before, it can happen anytime.


"Please follow the instructions and do the patch test. It may take an extra forty-eight hours to dye your hair but that will be the best forty-eight hours you have waited.

"I wish I had done the patch test. Even if somehow I can get access to a healthy hair dye without the chemicals I would still be doing the patch test.

"I never want this to happen to me ever again and I would never want anyone to go through what I went through."

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