A mother-of-one shares her story after endangering her baby’s life, suffering allergic reaction to hair dye while pregnant.

Jess Strachan, 30, unknowingly put her unborn baby’s life in danger when her hair was dyed from blonde to brunette at a family friend’s salon.

Jess, who did not undergo a patch test, ended up in A&E twice when her face ballooned in size and left her unable to open her eyes, reports Daily Mail.

She was five months pregnant at the time – and doctors told her that her baby could have died if her reaction had been internal and not external.

Thankfully, Jess gave birth to a healthy son, Harry, now 20 months, and she vows to embrace her natural dark blonde locks.

The children’s centre worker, from Hertfordshire, said : ‘The whole experience was absolutely terrifying.

‘My face had swollen so much that I looked like a monster, even my own husband couldn’t look at me as he was utterly devastated.

‘It was the worst moment of my entire life.

‘I can’t believe I was so stupid to not have done a patch test.

‘Now I know about the dangers of the chemicals in hair dye I would say to others never make the same mistake as me – it could be deadly.’

In January 2015, Jess had her hair coloured at a local hairdressers run by a family friend.

She says: ‘As I’d been dying my hair for more than a decade, my hairdresser said it wasn’t necessary for me to have a patch test done.

‘Now I know this is not the case and a patch test should always be used as an allergic reaction can build up over years.’

Three days after Jess dyed her hair, she visited her GP, who confirmed she was suffering from an allergic reaction to PPD (Paraphenylenediamine), a chemical commonly found in hair dyes.

She was prescribed antihistamines that were safe for pregnant women and, 72 hours later, she was able to open her eyes after the swelling subsided.

The doctor told Jess if she’d suffered from an internal reaction, both her and her baby could have died.

Jess says: ‘When I heard those words I just burst into tears. I felt so guilty and scared for the safety of my baby.’

‘I couldn’t believe something as insignificant as colouring my hair could have killed my child.

‘I had been naive and thought it wouldn’t happen to me. I will never be able to dye my hair again now and I want to warn people not to be as stupid as I was.

‘Carrying out a patch test takes a matter of minutes, and I can’t stress how important it is.

‘It can save your life.’

Holly Shaw, nurse advisor to Allergy UK, says: ‘Patch testing by the hair dresser is recommended before applying any hair dye for the first time or when changing dye types or hairdressers.

‘Anyone who is pregnant and requires the use of medications, such as anti-histamines, should discuss their individual needs and circumstances with their GP or pharmacist who will have the knowledge to make recommendations for medication choices.’

Have you had a scary experience during pregnancy?  

Share your comments below.

Stock photo

  • hairdressers don’t patch test either. i am one and i haven’t had this situation happen to me before but we do check to make sure that the product isn’t burning your salp


  • Had her husband not known her well he possibly wouldn’t have recognised her.
    I know of a new Mum who had untreated Toxaemia (it now has another name). Apparemtly she had complained to the Dr. 2 weeks before the birth about the swelling and discomfort from it.
    Her face was so swollen that her own parents didn’t recognise her. Because the new Mum lived a day’s drive away they hadn’t seen her for a three weeks because one of them had been ill, but had talked on the phone every day or on alternate days. Phone coverage was poor. The new Mum survived the struggle but the toxins affected the baby too who wasn’t strong enough to fight them.


  • Haven’t had my hair died for years after a friend of mine ended up in hospital with a bad experience – not worth the effort. We are beautiful as we are.


  • I had heard that you shouldn’t dye your hair when pregnant, but never thought that it could have such severe repercussions. There are a lot of things that you shouldn’t do when pregnant, a list that can seem quite silly and pedantic such as no runny egg yolks. I guess I kind of thought that the whole hair dye thing was up there with that…


  • It is well known that you should not dye your hair in pregnancy.


  • I never had my hair dyed until I was in my 40’s so my children were never in any danger. Saying that, I would never have thought that by dying my hair while pregnant was dangerous. Will be telling anyone I know about the dangers.


  • I had always heard not to colour hair while pregnant due to the chemicals & how your body can react differently when you’re pregnant. Interesting how for some this seems like common knowledge but others have never heard of it.


  • how scary, I have only coloured my hair now that I’m older and thankfully not whilst pregnant.


  • Ooh, I’ve never heard of such a reaction before. I knew, not sure where from, never to have my hair coloured when pregnant.


  • What a scary experience !!
    Thank God all ended well !


  • I only realised the significance of hair dye while pregnant when princess Kate was pregnant. My most scarey experience was catching a virus whilst pregnant. I had a fever and couldn’t get out of bed for a few days. The hospital just told me to keep taking Panadol and bed rest. I was worried about my baby then


  • I had my hair coloured twice during pregnancy but requested ombre balayage so the chemicals wouldn’t come into contact with my skin.


  • Wow, that is super scary, luckily it wasn’t any worse.


  • Oh my goodness, very scary indeed.


  • I would do a test patch just to make sure!


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