Mother-of-two dies after severe allergic reaction to box hair dye

By Samantha Luiz
19 February 2015

An inquest into the 2012 death of a British woman has revealed she was killed after suffering a severe allergic reaction to L’Oreal Recital Preference hair dye.

Julie McCabe (39), a mother of two, visited her doctors about 20 times between 2005 and 2011. She was suffering from symptoms that included rashes on her neck and scalp, itchy and inflamed eyes and swelling to her tongue.

In turn the doctors prescribed creams to remedy the symptoms, failing to note her allergy diagnosis in her medical file.

'I just thought Julie was having a severe asthma attack'

As a result McCabe continued using the hair dye till she suffered from an anaphylactic reaction. This is a severe allergic reaction that occurs quickly and causes a life-threatening response involving the whole body. This reaction can lead to difficulty breathing and shock ultimately leading to death.

Her husband, Russell McCabe (47), remembers the fateful day she screamed in agony after washing out the hair dye.

“I went outside and discovered Julie was on her hands and knees in the driveway, gasping for breath. I just thought Julie was having a severe asthma attack.”

He also recalled how distraught his wife was.

“Russell, I’m struggling to breathe. I think I’m going to die,” she reportedly said.

The anaphylactic reaction led to brain damage. Eventually, she slipped into a coma in 2011 before she died of acute cardio respiratory arrest on 30 November 2012.

“I find it inconceivable, given the number of doctors she saw, that nobody told her to stop using the hair dye,” said Dr Sean Emmott, a senior partner at the practice.

Her family blames the chemical paraphenylenediamine (PPD) for her reaction. PPD is a chemical that is widely used in permanent hair dyes and black henna tattoos.


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