Last Thursday I went to the hairdresser to get my patch test done as I wanted to go back to my natural hair colour.
This means a tiny bit of hair colour is applied to your skin, usually behind one ear. In the UK you have to have this test done at least 48hours before any hair-colour is applied to your head.
So the girl puts the colour behind my ear and says, “in case you have an allergic reaction you can take anti-histamines to reduce the symptoms.” – I had no idea how lucky I was that she said that to me…!
At this point I want to say, that I have dyed my hair since I was 14 years old. I’ve had pretty much every hair colour you can think of and never had a problem.
I leave the salon to do my grocery shopping and go home. I make myself dinner, all good so far.
However, within two hours I started feeling ill and over the next couple of hours I felt worse and worse. I can honestly say I have never felt that ill before, not even in my worse hangover times! I thought there must have been something wrong with the food I had for dinner. At this point it did not even occur to me that the symptoms could be in connection to the patch test.
In addition I had nettle rash all over my body, which looked like insect bites and they were incredibly itchy.
Late at night, still feeling incredibly ill I spent a long time on the toilet vomiting. At least I felt better after.
Getting up the next morning, I felt weak but I thought I was fine again. The nettle rash had disappeared and I didn’t feel ill anymore.
In the afternoon we went to a restaurant and I had a few bits and pieces to eat. Not too much, but I was really hungry and since my stomach didn’t react negatively during the day I thought it was safe to eat. Bad idea! Within an hour I started to feel ill again. I went to bed early, hoping everything would be fine the next day.
On Saturday I didn’t have any appetite and skipped eating altogether. I stayed home all day.
Saturday evening my eye started to itch. When I looked in the mirror my eye was swollen. It looked like a huge mosquito bite on my upper eye-lid. Only at this point did it occur to me that this may be an allergic reaction to the patch test! I googled the symptoms and BINGO on the NHS website it is stated that:
“ Hair Dye Reactions: If you’re allergic to PPD, your scalp and face may feel itchy and start to swell. PPD may also trigger symptoms throughout your body, such as itching, a nettle rash, and generally feeling ill. These symptoms may not develop until hours, or even days, later.”
A bit later my lips started to swell and then my whole face including my throat and my tongue became very itchy and I started to have sneezing attacks.
On the picture below you can see my swollen eye and the lip starting to swell as well. I know I look horrendous but this picture was taken after feeling ill for two days and almost no sleep. This is not what I normally look like without make-up…lol.
Luckily we have a Tescos nearby which is open 24hours. Pete jumped in the car and got me some anti-histamine, which reduced the symptoms and made me feel better. Today is Tuesday, so 5 days later. While I’m feeling well again my eyes, in particular, are still a bit swollen and my face still seems a bit irritated.
I’m a little in shock as this all happened so fast and I never expected to have an allergic reaction. I used to be so annoyed that I have to get this patch test done as I found it unnecessary and time-consuming. Today I’m so thankful that this law was invented. I honestly don’t know what would have happened to me if I would have had this colour poured all over my head/hair.
While it is said, that only one person in 250 000 reacts badly to hair dye I highly recommend to get a patch test done every time you get your hair dyed. I’m the best example that an allergy can develop within a couple of months and the outcome can be severe and potentially life-threading. It is also becoming more common.ba
The good news is, that if you are reacting badly to one hair dye there are many others you can try. Also, this seems to be more of a problem for dark hair colour and blonde hair dyes are not affected as much by this. Nevertheless, it can not be guaranteed that you won’t react to blonde hair dye!
Below I’ve copied in some pictures from girls who as well suffered from an allergic reaction. I assume the majority of them had the dye applied to their full heads. The blonde girl seems to have had a patch test as she ‘only’ had an allergic reaction where the dye was applied.
Look after yourselves xx!!