Wembley barrister ‘lucky to be alive’ after suffering allergic reaction to hair dye

Marina Williamson almost had a heart attack

Marina Williamson almost had a heart attack - Credit: Archant

A barrister from Wembley Park is calling for stronger warnings on the possible dangers of home hair dye kits after she almost had a heart attack from an extreme allergic reaction.

Ms Williamson had weeping on her ears

Ms Williamson had weeping on her ears - Credit: Archant

Marina Williamson was rushed to hospital with a racing heart beat and breathing difficulties six days after she used L’Oréal Garnier Nutrisse hair to cover her grey hairs.

The 33-year-old, who is also a solicitor, was told by doctors she was lucky to be alive as her symptoms could have been fatal.

She is now calling for customers to be warned about the risk of severe allergic reaction to active chemical phenylendiamine or PPD, which is present in 99 per cent of permanent dyes sold in the UK.

She said: “I’ve done a few treatments before but had I known these permanent dyes had these chemicals in I would have been so much more cautious- I never thought I could wind up in hospital or worse.

She is calling for the warnings to be made much bolder

She is calling for the warnings to be made much bolder - Credit: Archant

“I will never ever dye my hair again- even natural dyes like henna can have PPD in them.

“I think these dyes should have the same bold warnings as cigarette boxes do. “Anyone can pick these dyes up for £5 and don’t have any idea of the risks they are taking with their lives.”

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PPD, which is thought to have caused a number of deaths from allergic reaction in the past decade is banned in France, Germany and Sweden, but is widely available in permanent hair dye products in the UK.

Recalling the day she had the reaction, she said: “I dyed my hair last Friday and developed a bad rash on my back and fever over the weekend.

Lawyer Ms Williamson is calling for 100,000 signatures to have the ban debated in by MP's

Lawyer Ms Williamson is calling for 100,000 signatures to have the ban debated in by MP's - Credit: Archant

“But when on Tuesday my ears had started weeping I thought I was dying- you don’t think with an allergic reaction that it’s going to get worse and worse like that.

“The following day my chest was tight and my pulse was all over my body and I knew something was going badly wrong with my heart.

“As soon as I got into hospital they put me on an oxygen machine and steroids to help me breathe-it was awful. The doctors said it could have been fatal.”

She has since been discharged from hospital and is currently on steroids and anti-histamines to aid her recovery.

Ms Williams said she will write to Garnier to tell them about her experience and is urging all manufacturers to give customers more obvious allergy warnings to highlight the importance of patch testing for a full 72 hour period before a full application.

She added: “I don’t think these dyes should be as readily available; there should be a health warning in bold and red rather than the yellow small font descriptions that people don’t tend to read.”

A spokeswoman for L’Oréal told the Times: “Allergic reactions to hair colourants are extremely rare. Potential reactions can be detected by carrying out the allergy alert Test, as directed on pack and contained in the leaflet, 48 hours before you wish to use the product. Our website becoloursafe.com has a step-by-step guide on how to carry one out.

“The allergy alert test must be completed before each colour application, even if you have previously used the same hair colourant or the colourant of any other brand. If you have ever experienced any reaction after colouring your hair or any reaction after temporary tattooing with black henna you should not proceed.”

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