‘Doctors lifted my hair and the scalp came away’: Mother who wanted trendy unicorn locks ended up with severe chemical burns from a home bleaching kit and is now partially BALD
A woman desperate for trendy ‘unicorn hair’ has warned others to be careful dying their locks at home, after a home-bleaching kit left her in hospital for six weeks suffering from severe chemical burns and partially bald.
Mum-of-one Kirsty Weston, 29, from St Albans, Hertfordshire, used high-strength £5 powder bleach, bought on the high street, to lighten her dark brown locks.
She wanted to give herself the latest trendy style – where hair is dyed into pastel shades, resembling the mane of a unicorn.
But, instead of looking like the mythical creature, she was left seriously ill, with severe full thickness chemical burns and needed a skin graft from her right thigh to repair the damage to her head.
In total, since the incident, she has had six operations and spent three weeks in St Andrews hospital, Chelmsford, Essex.Kirsty Weston, 29, from St Albans, Hertfordshire ended up in hospital for six weeks after a bleaching kit she bought to lighten her hair gave her severe chemical burns Kirsty’s head after doctors changed her bandages for the first time after she had her skin graft
Kirsty claimed she applied the dye according to the instructions. Then, just before she was about to wash it out after 15 minutes, she started to experience a burning sensation.
Despite rushing to rinse the bleach out, she felt severe pain on her head and the next day, her face began to swell.
Weeks later, medical staff shaved her head to allow her to undergo emergency surgery to try to heal the chemical burns on her scalp.
Now, she has lost over half the hair on her head and has been told it will never grow back as there are no follicles in the skin that has been grafted over the wound.
The mother-of-one before she dyed her hair (above) and after she suffered an allergic reaction to the bleach (below)
The mother-of-one doesn’t want to have further surgery at the moment because she’s busy caring for her daughter Lexi Kirsty now covers her hair with scarves and wigs while she considers having a hair transplant or further surgery
Kirsty, who is a single mum to Lexi, two, explained: ‘I wanted unicorn hair, where you lighten it and then dye over the top with lots of different pastel colours.
‘It was before it became really popular and I just wanted something a bit different.
‘I never thought it would end up completely destroying my hair and changing my life like this. It’s caused a lot of pain and I’ve completely lost my self-confidence.’
Kirsty bought the box of dye, which includes sachets of powder bleach for just a few pounds.
The bleach needed to be mixed peroxide, which was not included and had to be bought separately. Kirsty bought 40 volume 12 per cent peroxide, which is sold on the high street and promised to lighten her locks by up to nine shades.Kirsty, when she first went in to hospital to be treated for an allergic reaction In hospital after doctors cleaned her head to prevent infection Kirsty with her mum Helen, at a clinic where she discussed getting a hair-piece, in May 2017
Although her mum Helen, 57, is a hairdresser, Kirsty thought that applying it herself would save money and allow her to control the final result.
But just 15 minutes after mixing and applying the bleach to her head, Kirsty’s scalp started burning and she rushed to wash it off her head.
She explained: ‘Within 15 minutes, my hair was literally smoking. The pain was so excruciating that I started to feel dizzy, like I was going to faint.
‘It happened quite suddenly. I could feel that it was quite warm, but it got so much worse very quickly. I immediately went to wash it all off, but I think it had already got into my scalp.Kirsty’s head, a few months ago. Hair will not grow back in the areas where she’s had skin grafts Kirsty, after having her skin grafted from her thigh on to her head, in early March 2017
‘The next day, half my face started to balloon and I thought it was a reaction. The next morning, I went to A&E at Watford general as at that stage, I couldn’t open my left eye. It was getting really painful.’
Kirsty visited A&E where she was treated for an allergic reaction and prescribed antibiotics.
Over the following weeks, she continued to experience pain and discomfort.
But it wasn’t until a return trip to A&E at Watford General Hospital on February 23 2017 that doctors realised she was suffering from severe burns, rather than an allergic reaction, as originally thought.
She explained: ‘A plastic surgeon came to see me and when they lifted my hair, most of my scalp came away with it.
‘I was a complete emotional wreck. They told me that I needed to have surgery the next day.
‘They put a bandage around my head and I wasn’t able to put pressure on it, so I had to sleep sitting up.’
Kirsty was transferred to the Royal Free Hospital, north west London, and the next day, they shaved her hair and cleaned up the wound before she underwent the operation.Kirsty’s thigh where a skin graft was taken in March 2017
RAfter surgery, she was transferred to St Andrews Centre for plastic surgery and burns in Chelmsford, Essex, for further treatment.
Admitted for three weeks, she had five further operations, including a skin graft, where doctors removed skin from her thigh to replace the skin she had lost on her head.
Because the skin does not contain the same hair follicles, Kirsty had to face the fact that she would probably never be able to grow hair there again.
She has been offered two treatments, but both would involve further operations and may not be successful.After suffering severe chemical burns, Kirsty had to spend six weeks in hospital Before she bleached her hair: Kirsty wanted to lighten her locks so she could dye her strands different colours
Kirsty explained: ‘My options are to have a skin expansion treatment. They place balloons under the skin. These are filled with saline every week, until that skin stretches enough and then the healthy skin is pulled down onto the damaged skin, to reduce the baldness.
‘I’m not sure if I’m ready for that at the minute. It would require more surgery and I would have to travel back and forth to hospital every week, which is difficult when I have a little girl to look after.
‘I have also been offered a hair transplant, but they aren’t great for women. It will cover the scalp, but I’m never going to have long flowing locks.
‘I’m not sure what I am going to do so, at the minute, I’m just concentrating on getting my skin graft healed.’Kirsty, back home, after doctors shaved and cleaned her head to prevent infection
While Kirsty considers her options, charity the Katie Piper Foundation has stepped in to fund a bespoke hair piece from Bloomsbury wigs for her to wear to cover her burns.
‘Where I have got hair, it is very thick and it’s growing fast so they wouldn’t be able to put on a full wig. They are creating a hairpiece that will clip around the existing hair,’ she explained.
‘It should be ready in September and I think that will completely transform my life. I will be so much more confident going out and about.
‘At the minute, even if I am just nipping to the shop, I put my hood up or wear a headscarf. It’s really knocked my self-confidence.
‘I want to see if I can live with the hair piece. I might be able to avoid further surgery if I can get used to it and feel happy.’After suffering severe burns, Kirsty wants to warn other about the dangers of home hair dye The mother-of-one doesn’t want to have further surgery at the moment because she’s busy caring for her daughter Lexi
Now, Kirsty is speaking out to warn others about home hair dye.
She said: ‘I would tell other people to just go to a professional who knows what they are doing. I was trying to save some money but bleach is dangerous stuff.
‘I didn’t do a patch test and I know I should have, but this was a burn rather than an allergic reaction. The skin was sensitive, the bleach was very strong and it got too warm and burned my scalp.
‘I worry about this being sold to people who don’t know what they are doing. The box I had was tested and it met all safety standards, but I think this strength of bleach should be restricted to professional use only.’