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Anorak | Scare Story: Turning Tabatha McCourt’s Death Into A Daily Mail Hair Dye Horror

Scare Story: Turning Tabatha McCourt’s Death Into A Daily Mail Hair Dye Horror

by | 20th, October 2011

LEAH Hardy has question concerning the death of Tabatha McCourt:

Does YOUR hair dye contain the chemical feared to have killed this woman?

Hardy tells Daily Mail readers

Like many teenagers, 17-year-old Tabatha McCourt loved to experiment with her hair colour. And when she decided to try a new darker shade one evening with friends, she assumed her home hair-dye was perfectly safe.
But within 20 minutes of applying the colour, she was screaming in agony. She then suffered what looked like a fit and collapsed ‘like a lifeless doll’.

Terrible stuff. Time to check the stuff in your hair dye to see if it’s the same stuff the killed Miss McCourt:

Tabatha was rushed to hospital and later died. The exact cause of her death is not known…

But what about that killer hair dye?

…but medics are investigating whether it might have been due to a severe allergic reaction to a chemical used in 99 per cent of all hair-dyes: PPD or p-Phenylendiamine.

Did you see that? Ninety- per cent of all hair dyes contain a chemical that was in the hair dye Tabatha McCourt put on her hair.

According to the US Environmental Agency:

Acute exposure to high levels of p-phenylenediamine may cause severe dermatitis, eye irritation and tearing, asthma, gastritis, renal failure, vertigo, tremors, convulsions, and coma in humans.

The New Zealand Dermatalogical Society notes:

Reaction caused by the use of hair dye in mild cases usually only involves dermatitis to the upper eyelids or the rims of the ears. In more severe cases, there may be marked reddening and swelling of the scalp and the face. The eyelids may completely close and the allergic contact dermatitis reaction may become widespread. Severe allergy to PPD can result in contact urticaria and rarely, anaphylaxis.

Neither organisation mention the possibility of death. But we do learn that products containing the stuff carry health warnings, mainly to test the chemical on small patch of skin first.

The Mail continues:

This chemical fixes dye permanently into the hair so it doesn’t wash out —  and it is causing increasing concern,  with some experts now calling for an outright ban.

Experts with facts?

Apparently it causes 80 per cent of allergic reactions to hair-dye,  including dermatitis, according to the European Scientific Committee for Consumer Products.

That site says:

It is subjected to the following “conditions of use and warnings which must be printed on the label”:
a) for general use: Can cause an allergic reaction. Contains phenylenediamines. Do not use to dye eyelashes or eyebrows.
b) for professional use: For professional use only. Contains phenylenediamines. Can cause an allergic reaction. Wear suitable gloves.

The lcoal Aidre and Coatbridge Advertiser makes no refernce to the ahir dye. We just elasn that polcie are investigating.

A postmortem examination was scheuled to be carried out on 19 October.

The Mirror and Guardian hear from one expert:

Emma Meredith, head of scientific research at the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association, explained that PPD is used in many hair dyes which are used to darken the hair, but she said it is not possible to conclude that it was to blame for Tabatha’s allergic reaction until a post mortem has been carried out. She said: “To have such an immediate and violent reaction to this or any other cosmetic product is exceedingly rare.

“Generally we see two different types of allergic reactions, one of which is delayed and often happens after a person has used a product more than once. It tends to be localised to the area of the body where the product is used and develops between 24 and 48 hours after it has been applied.

“Then there is the type of reaction that it appears Tabatha may have had, which comes on almost immediately and takes hold of the whole body. We don’t know if Tabatha had any predisposition to allergies but any kind of reaction would be more likely in that case. This is an awful and unfortunate event and our thoughts are with Tabatha’s family. We hope they get some answers and we will be interested to know the cause of the reaction.”

Hardy wrote about hair dye for the Times in 2008: “Dying to be beautiful”:

In 2000, Narinder Devi, 39, died of anaphylactic shock, an extreme allergic reaction, after using a permanent black hair dye at home in Birmingham. She had previously had an irritated scalp when dying her hair, but thought it was due to ammonia in the product, so she chose an ammonia-free product the next time. In fact, the redness and tingling that she apparently suffered were almost certainly a warning signal that she was becoming sensitised to certain chemical colorants (see below) that were penetrating her skin and getting into the bloodstream. Her immune system was priming her body for the final, fatal attack. Although this was an extremely rare case, it highlights the need for caution when choosing permanent dyes.

Using any chemical on the body carries a certain degree of risk. But to link the death of a teenage girl to hair dye when cause not been proven is scaremongering and exploits a tragic story. 



Posted: 20th, October 2011 | In: Reviews Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink