By Rebecca Drew
DIY HAIR dye caused this woman’s face to balloon so much that she couldn’t open her EYES and had to SHAVE her head – and it took FOUR WEEKS to improve.
Hair stylist, Sherrie Virtue (41) from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is an advocate for natural silver hair and has only coloured her hair a six times in her life – largely without any problems.
When previously dying her hair, Sherrie noticed some mild itchiness, which she thought was normal because it would subside after a couple of weeks.
On August 12, 2020, Sherrie decided to dye her hair at home using a packet colour. This caused her scalp and neck to itch, burn, and feel swollen.
Two days later, her glasses were tight on her face and by the time Sherrie woke up the following day, her head had swollen up so much she could not open her eyes and she struggled to see.
By this point, Sherrie was scared and knew that she was having a severe allergic reaction – she called her local medical clinic for help. After sending her doctor the shocking pictures of her reaction which was causing her face to swell more by the hour, she was prescribed an antihistamine to calm the reaction.
Sherrie estimates that it took a good four weeks for the itchiness and burning to stop and in the meantime she even shaved her head on two occasions in a bid to banish the toxins on her scalp and head.
This was the sixth and final time Sherrie will ever colour her hair as she was warned that next time a reaction like this could be fatal. She now can’t wait to have silver hair but she’s sharing her story to raise awareness of the importance of doing a patch test.
“Actually, I am a big supporter of silver hair. I can’t wait to have a head full of beautiful white coils after this. I have coloured my hair a total of six times in my life,” said Sherrie.
“When I had started cosmetology school some twenty years ago, that’s when I realised I was allergic to colour but nothing crazy, it was itchy for two weeks but that was it, it never did anything else.
“I never got an allergy test. I just suspected it was normal. This time I had a full allergic reaction.
“I did a box colour on Wednesday afternoon. My neck itched and burned, and my head felt tight. By Friday afternoon my glasses felt tight against my face. By the next morning, my head was massive, and my eyes had become so swollen, they closed up and I could barely see at all.
“I was scared and nervous. I called a friend and then I called a clinic. The clinic was busy but when I told them that I was having an allergic reaction to colour, they made a spot for me. The doctor called and we spoke and I emailed him pictures and then he sent a prescription to my nearest pharmacy.
“My face was swelling by the hour and it scared my daughter. We both cried as we were scared as to what was happening.
“It’s still itchy to this day but I would say it took a good four weeks for everything to subside.
“I’ve shaved my hair twice and that has helped. My scalp was very dry and scabby so shaving helped it to heal faster by removing all the toxins.”
Sherrie 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.
“Never say never but I won’t colour my hair again because the next time could be fatal. It’s not worth this pain so silver and free I will be,” said Sherrie.
“Please always do a patch test and if you are itchy and scabs start to form that’s the beginning stages of an allergic reaction to colour so be careful and seek medical attention right away.
“Always have Benadryl (antihistamine) on hand because I think that saved me.
“Don’t skip the patch test and if you’ve never done colour, go to a professional to have it done.”