Robyn Cherry, 29, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was left unable to see and her face doubled in size after dying her hair brown back in 2010 – despite undergoing a patch test
A woman has revealed how she’s still suffering almost ten years later from an allergic reaction to hair dye that almost killed her.
Robyn Cherry, 29, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was left unable to see and her face doubled in size after dying her hair brown back in 2010 – despite undergoing a patch test.
Nearly a decade on, Robyn is still unable to go out in the sunlight forcing her to miss out on holidays and give up her dream career as a horse rider.
Robyn, an administrator, said: ‘Going to the hairdressers that day was the worst mistake of my life.
‘I’ve been in and out of A&E since then and it has been absolute hell.
‘Not only did I nearly die, I’m now unable to enjoy a sunny day or I’ll end up in hospital.’
In October 2010, Robyn, then 20, saved up £120 to get her hair dyed professionally at a local hair salon.
Robyn says: ‘Usually I bleached my hair blonde twice a month myself at home.
‘I always did a patch test and waited 48 hours.
‘But after many years, I decided to go back to my natural brown hair.
‘The salon gave me a patch test the day before my appointment which didn’t reveal any reaction.
Unrecognizable: Robyn Cherry, now 29, pictured during her allergic reaction.
‘The next day the hairdresser asked me to come in and they dyed my hair brown.’
Within minutes of leaving the salon, Robyn’s scalp started burning, but she ignored the sensation.
The following morning, she woke up to discover her face had ballooned twice its size.
Robyn says: ‘My head literally looked like a tomato, I was so scared. And the pain was agonising.
‘My head was burning so much I felt like it was going to pop off.
‘My mum took me to the GP, but the receptionist told us to go to hospital immediately.
‘Mum was worried and revealed that my face was swelling up, even as we were driving to hospital.’
Robyn’s mum, Judy Cherry, 65, a recruitment company owner, drove Robyn to A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital.
Within minutes of leaving the salon, Robyn’s scalp started burning, but she ignored the sensation. The following morning, she woke up to discover her face had ballooned twice its size. (Robyn pictured during her allergic reaction)
By the time they arrived, Robyn’s airways had swollen shut so she couldn’t breathe and she was immediately rushed to the resuscitation unit.
Robyn says: ‘I could feel my face getting even bigger and my eyes had swollen shut.
‘I was completely blind, it was horrible.
‘I heard doctors saying my hair was coming out in clumps and my scalp was covered in blisters that kept bursting.
‘I kept passing out every few minutes because of the pain and was absolutely hysterical.
‘Doctors gave me adrenaline shots and steroids.
‘They said it was the worst reaction they’d ever seen and, if I’d left it another hour, I would have died.
Following her severe reaction to PPD which is found in hair dye, Robyn became allergic to most foods, spices, nuts, alcohol and clothing. She’s also had to give up her dream career as a horse rider
‘I was terrified and kept begging them to help me.’
Doctors discovered Robyn had suffered a severe reaction to paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a common ingredient in hair dye.
And they revealed Robyn’s patch test should have been left for 48 hours rather than 24 hours.
Within 16 hours Robyn’s breathing returned back to normal and she was discharged after 20 hours in hospital.
But within six hours of being home, Robyn stopped breathing as her airways had swollen shut again and she was rushed back to A&E.
Robyn says: ‘Again, I was given medication which stabilised the reaction.
‘After that, I was in and out of A&E every four days suffering from allergic reactions.
‘I realised the reason I’d never had reactions to hair dye before was because there was no PPD in bleach.
‘I became allergic to most foods, spices, nuts, alcohol and clothing.
‘I couldn’t eat at restaurants, wear nice clothes or go out for drinks with my friends any more.
Robyn Cherry now: ‘I want to warn others about the dangers of dying their hair. Please always do a patch test and, if you go to the hairdresser, make sure they wait 48 hours’
‘My life became a living hell.’
The release of PPD had caused Robyn’s body to go into a state of shock which meant she was having severe allergic reactions to everyday items.
Robyn says: ‘After that, it only got worse.
‘Every time I went into the sun, my skin was covered in blisters filled with pus.
‘I also had hives all over my body and I felt faint.
‘It was horrible.’
In May 2011, Robyn was diagnosed with polymorphic light eruption and solar urticaria as a result of the reaction, a rare condition meaning she was sensitive to sunlight.
Robyn says: ‘I was forced to stay indoors whenever it was sunny outside and had to give up my horse riding company.
‘For the next three years, I became a recluse and never left the house.
‘I fell into a deep depression and suffered from anxiety attacks.’
Now, Robyn says she’s still unable to go outside on sunny days.
Robyn says: ‘I’ll be on extremely strong antihistamines and steroids for the rest of my life.
‘During summer I can’t enjoy beach holidays or even spend the day in a pub garden.
‘Going to the hairdresser that day was the worst decision I’ve ever made but sadly I cannot take it back.
‘Now, I want to warn others about the dangers of dying their hair.
‘Please always do a patch test and, if you go to the hairdresser, make sure they wait 48 hours.’