Allow me, for a brief moment, to stray from my usual topics to discuss something that has recently affected me. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I recently got my hair done and was in love. It’s this awesome sombre dye effect that goes from black to purple. I knew I would miss my wild blue locks, but after seeing pictures with the purple, I knew I wanted to change it up.
Friday morning I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for my appointment. I made my way to the salon, where I spend 4 1/2 hours getting a fabulous hair makeover. Thrilled with how it came out I blasted selfies to everyone I know so they could love it as much as I did.
I seriously loved it.
However, shortly after arriving home, my scalp started to itch like crazy. At first, I thought it was because I had washed my hair less than 24 hours before getting it dyed. Rookie mistake, I know, but I really needed to clean it. As it turns out that wasn’t my problem at all.
Hives and redness started to appear along my hairline. I stared at them in my mirror in total disbelief. What the hell was happening? I’ve been dying my hair since middle school, and this had only happened once before. That time I assumed it was because I used some discount boxed dye at home. I thought back to that reaction and recalled it being relatively mild – some hives that lasted about two days and Benedryl had worked wonders. Naturally, I took the same course of action this time. I popped a few Benedryl and went to bed.
When I woke up Saturday morning, I found that the hives had spread and the back of my head was a bit swollen. I took more Benedryl and scratched the crap out of my itchy scalp all day and kept thinking that would be the worst of it. I couldn’t help but notice on Saturday night how swollen and red my ears were.
At this point, I think I was subconsciously ignoring how the situation was progressing. I swear I actually am a medical professional.
Sunday morning I woke up early to head to a training drill at the firehouse. I noticed some swelling near my left ear. Again, I took more Benedryl and went about my life.
An hour later I looked like this.
As the swelling spread toward my eye, I began to take it more seriously. I immediately left what I was doing to see a doctor.
Have you ever tried to see a doctor on a Sunday? The only thing open was an Urgent Care, and it’s flu season, so it was no picnic waiting.
For three hours I sat in the waiting room and by the time I saw the doctor the swelling had spread significantly.
I was far from looking my prettiest, and so mad that gorgeous hair could betray me like this.
The doctor prescribed a handful of medications and had me take a few right there. She was very concerned about the state of my face and made it very clear that any minor changes meant I would have to go to the Emergency Room.
I went home and passed out because I was eating so much Benedryl and that shit sucks the life out of you.
When I woke up 2 hours later, I could barely open my left eye.
I calmly walked into the living room and stated, “I think I should go to the hospital now.” Nick looked up from what he was doing and made a face he quickly tried to hide as he started getting dressed. We arranged for his mom to take Nikki and left for the hospital.
I was quickly taken in, hooked up to IV’s, and pumped full of drugs as nurses and doctors asked me a million and one questions. Each person who came to speak with me asked to see pictures of what I look like usually. When I showed them, they all had the same reaction of horror mixed with pity. At this point of the day, 12 hours from when I first noticed facial swelling, my entire head had swollen. I looked like a balloon or a snapchat filter.
I spent the night under observation at the hospital. They treated me to some hardcore steroids and antihistamines during my stay.
Luckily, they worked, and the swelling went down significantly by morning. Although there was still swelling around my eye and neck, I had improved enough to be released. The doctors gave me very explicit discharge directions and a few more prescriptions.
My eye is still puffy, and the glands in my neck are swollen. It has been an absolute nightmare, and I promise you I will never put an ounce of black dye in my hair again.
So why did this happen?
After a ton of research on the topic, as well as a few discussions with doctors I think I have some answers. PPD is a chemical agent added to hair dyes. It is most prevalent in the darkest browns and black dyes, and it can cause major issues. Sensitivities to this chemical are actually on the rise, and it is being added to other colors of dye as well.
I am not an expert in this field. I’m just a person who did some extensive googling and had at length discussions with professionals after my own horrible experience. I urge any of you who get your hair dyed to take serious precautions and find out what is in that dye, though. I would honestly hate for anyone to go through what I did.
Tomorrow I will be making an appointment with an allergist to have a full panel run on my blood. I will also be researching natural dyes that do not contain PPD. Most permanent dyes will be off the table, but I’m okay with that since I won’t be risking my life for cool hair.
If you get your hair dyed and notice any sign of rash or allergic reaction, please seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY.
Don’t make the same dopey mistake I did, by assuming it wasn’t serious.