Woman Has Super-Scary Allergic Reaction After Getting Hair Dyed

A simple patch test can help you avoid hair-dye fiasco. (Photo: Getty Images)
A simple patch test can help you avoid hair-dye fiasco. (Photo: Getty Images)

Mish Whalen, a Today senior multimedia editor, woke up with an oversize head after getting her hair dyed last December. She had gone to her friend’s salon to get her hair colored a chestnut shade. After the job was done, she felt fine and went about her day. But things quickly turned sour two days after her visit, when she woke up with an enlarged head.

“My head was red and itchy and there were hives and burning. I just had an overall feeling of being sick. The worst part was my head was so big that it made me feel like I looked disfigured. I didn’t want to leave the house,” Whalen reported on Today.

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She quickly made a visit to her doctor, and began to take a combination of Benadryl and steroid pills. After she suffered with her symptoms for a few days, her doctor confirmed that her allergic reaction, in fact, had been caused by the hair dye.

Initially, Whalen was game to try out a new hair color and thought she would be fine because she had previously colored her hair before for a Today “Ambush Makeover” segment in 2015 without any issues. She went in confident that she would have an easy experience as she did before, and decided to skip having a patch test done.

A patch test might have actually been Whalen’s saving grace. Today reports, “Hair dyes contain lots of chemicals that could lead to skin irritation and hair loss, but one ingredient in particular — p-phenylenediamine, or PPD — has been implicated more prominently in allergic reactions, the Food and Drug Administration notes. According to one study, about 7 percent of people test positive for reactions to PPD, including dermatitis on the face and facial swelling, which was my symptom.”

With new hair colors like Blorange on the rise and celebrities completely switching up their hues overnight, it’s hard not to feel at least a tad bit inspired to debut a new shade yourself. While changing hair colors can be a tempting new transformation, you still have to have to be extremely mindful of the chemicals found in hair dyes. All dyes aren’t for everyone, and some can cause harmful and sometimes even severe reactions that can be very hard to deal with. Mish Whalen unfortunately had to learn this lesson the hard way.

Avoid having your own horrifying situation by always trying a patch test first, and consulting with a professional. Scheduling a yearly allergy test with your doctor is never a bad idea either. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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