Pauley Perrette is known for her raven-black hair and gothic-style dress in her role as the quirky, and lovable, Abby Scuito on NCIS. Her character is the brilliant forensic scientist who has inspired a love of science in young people for more than a decade. This week, Pauley Perrette learned another scientific fact the hard way - people can develop severe allergic reactions to hair dye.
It's a message that actor/activist Perrette wants to communicate, because too many people, like Pauley, are unsuspecting that a basic component of one's beauty routine can, in fact, be very dangerous.
There were warning signs a few months ago that she was developing an allergy to her hair dye, Pauley tells KCAL9's Kristine Lazar, but she didn't recognize them. Perrette is a natural blonde, who has colored her locks for the past twenty years with no reactions. But about a year ago, Pauley began having symptoms indicating that her body was not handling the chemicals in the dye well.
Even after years of using the same product, a person can still develop an allergy. Jacob Offenberger, an allergist at Northridge Medical Center, notes the warning signs that an allergy is progressing.
"If you have hair dye, and the next day or the day after you start to have itchiness and you start to see redness or [an] eczema-type of lesion, it is telling that you that you are having an allergic reaction to that dying. If you would do nothing, the next time you do the hair dye, it's going to get worse."That is what happened with Pauley Perrette. About six months ago, Pauley broke out into a rash over her neck and scalp. She ignored the symptoms, not realizing that they were on track to get worse from there.
Last week, Pauley Perrette's most recent hair color routine landed her in the ER, with a rash and severe swelling. According to Perrette, it was "Awful. My head swelled up huge like a melon."
"Did my head look a bit puffy on the red carpet last night?" Pauley Perette tweeted her more than half a million Twitter followers on Friday, warning them about the dangers of hair dye. "Turns out I was having a dangerous allergic reaction to hair dye."
"It can be fatal," exhorts Pauley Perrette. "People have died. For real."
Perrette is correct. In 2011 in the UK, a 17-year-old girl began having a severe reaction about 20 minutes after applying hair color at a girl's night at a friend's house. She had dyed her hair frequently in the past with no reaction. However, on this day, the Daily Mail reports that Tabitha McCourt "began pulling at her shoulder-length locks, screaming and vomiting before collapsing in agony." She died later at the hospital.
Last year, The Inquisitr reported that a teenage boy had a allergic reaction that caused his head to swell greatly.
Pauley now says to "google 'hair dye allergy.'" Some of what may be found is that there have been other severe reactions that have resulted in life-threatening anaphylactic shock or death, prompting warning labels on hair dye in the UK, and a call for a ban on a specific ingredient used in virtually every semi-permanent and permanent color on the market.
Para-Phenylenediamine (PPD) is what gives the dyes the ability to cover grey and causes the color to last. And it is banned in many countries of the European Union. It was "voted Allergen Of The Year in 2006 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society."
Like Pauley Perrette, women can develop an allergy to the chemical at any time, even if they have never had a problem with it before.
That is why the instructions on the box carry the "cover their behinds" warning to always test for an allergic reaction 24 to 48 hours before coloring. It is a caution heeded by very few, including Perrette.
Pauley Perrette was fortunate. She spent time in the hospital, but has recovered. But if she were to dye her hair again, it could cost Pauley her life.
The inky black ponytails are a trademark look for Pauley's character Abby. CBSLA reports that Pauley Perrette may look into "natural hair color" or may consider a wig.
There has been no mention of another possibility - for Abby to go blonde. Surely she could pull off such a dramatic change, because the character is quite dramatic and feisty. Perhaps the show could even incorporate education about the dangers of hair dye into the script of an episode, having the logically passionate Abby embrace a crusade against toxins in hair dye.
One thing is certain, no hair color is worth risking the health of Pauley Perrette. Many of her fans feel the same way, and have tweeted that she needs to do what is best for her health. What do you think? Should Pauley Perrette's Abby go blonde?
[images via hqwall, and screenshots from Twitter]