L’Oreal says it will aid investigation into hair dye coma woman

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hair dye products, Allergy, Asthma

L’Oreal says it will fully co-operate with an investigation that is being launched into a British woman who fell into a coma after using one of its hair dye products.

“L’Oreal was extremely concerned to hear about this serious situation,”​ the company said in a statement. “We do not know the details of the case so it would be inappropriate for us to comment further, however we will do everything we can to assist this lady’s family and medical team with information they might need to establish what happened.”

The woman, Julie McCabe, age 38 from Keighley, Yorkshire, is on a life support machine following a possible allergic reaction she may have suffered after using a product from the L’Oreal Preference range on October 30.

Allergic reaction led to breathing difficulties and heart seizure

After dying her dark hair with the product, McCabe suffered a severe allergic reaction, characterized by abnormal swelling, which in turn made it difficult for her to breathe.

Her family called an ambulance to take her to a local hospital and it is believed that her heart stopped on the journey, sending her into coma. Although she was successfully revived, she has not recovered from the coma and doctors fear that her condition may be irreversible.

Although no link has been confirmed between the use of the L’Oreal product and McCabe’s condition, her family want a full investigation into whether or not it was provoked by the chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD).

The British Medical Journal by St. John’s Institute of Dermatology in London warned that PPD may be a possible trigger to such allergies back in 2007, and it has been linked to a number of allergic reactions following use of hair dyes.

Is a dosing limit the way forward?

In Europe a number of lobby groups and watchdogs have been campaigning to set specific limits for PPD, which is a commonly used chemical in a broad range of hair dye products available throughout Europe.

Likewise, industry bodies have taken it upon themselves to make recommendations for dosing limits, including France-based cosmetic and personal care industry association Febea.

“While there is no final rule on PPD, the SCCS has published a preliminary maximum concentration of 2 per cent, in comparison to the previous 6 per cent,”​ explained Anne Dux, Febea director of scientific and regulatory affairs, earlier this year.

PPD is essential to provide colour in hair dyes

While underlining these recommendations, Dux also pointed out the fact that it is PPD that colours the hair, which means that reducing its concentration further would significantly decrease the efficacy of the dye.

Manufacturers also recommend that consumers do a patch test for hair dye products that contain PPD, to determine whether or not there may be any type of allergy to the product before use.

Reducing the concentration of ingredients such as PPD, reduces the risk of allergies in the population, Febea went on to explain; although, the risk of an individual developing an allergy can never be eliminated.

Scientific studies and medical records have found that allergic reactions to PPC in young people have ranged from severe outbreaks of dermatitis to patients being admitted to hospital with significant facial swelling. But despite this there is currently no alternative or satisfactory agent on the market to replace it.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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