I went to the hairdresser to go lighter now I have a permanent bald patch after needing a skin graft

A WOMAN who went to the hairdresser to get lighter hair has been left with a permanent bald patch after a disaster treatment.

Ellie Swain had horrifying chemical burns that caused the tissue on her scalp to die.

The 24-year-old was left needing a skin graft covering the majority of the back of her head.

Ellie claims she began to feel a burning sensation on her head minutes after bleach had been applied by a hairdresser at Signatures Hair Studio in Crawley, West Sussex in May 2021.

She said: "After about ten to 15 minutes or so I started to feel a burning sensation and eventually I got up and basically demanded that she wash it off.

"My whole head felt like it was on fire. When she took the plastic off it was like when you open an oven door – steam just rose from my head.

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"When she washed it off my hair was bright yellow and all of it was fried and then she applied another colourant to try and take away the yellowness.

"After about five minutes I said to her you need to take this off, my head was literally on fire and my hair was fried and damaged."

Ellie says the hairdresser conditioned her hair before sending her home with an ice pack and telling her to return in the morning so she could try and “fix” her hair.

The following morning her previously long healthy locks had to be cut off to shoulder length because they were so damaged. 

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Ellie, from Sutton, Surrey, said: "About three or four days after [getting my scalp bleached] my scalp started to blister and it was oozing with pus.

"I went to the doctors and was prescribed antibiotics because I had an infection. I just thought hopefully the antibiotics will kick in and it will be okay.

"About a week passed and then my head basically began to turn black and I started to lose feeling, it was really numb.

"I went to A&E and they were trying to clean the area because my hair was basically matted to the burn.

"I don't think they could really see the severity of the burn because my hair was stuck to it and I didn't want to have it shaved off so they prescribed more antibiotics.

"But a couple of days after that my head was pouring blood and I was losing hair so I called 111 and they told me I needed to go to hospital straight away.”

At hospital, things took a turn for the worst when doctors discovered the true extent of Ellie’s condition.

They shaved her head and “revealed a ten by seven centimetre black burn, covering almost the whole back of my head”.

Ellie said: "The surgeon came in and said because I'd lost the feeling the skin was all dead and I had no other option than to have a skin graft. 

“I just completely broke down. It was awful.”

You don't expect to go to the hairdresser and then have life changing injuries and scars.

Ellie was transferred to the specialist burns unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where she underwent a skin graft surgery on 17th June.

Skin was taken from her thigh to replace the rotting tissue on her scalp, meaning she won’t be able to grow hair there again.

Ellie said: "I will never get growth on the skin graft part because my hair follicles were completely killed.

"It's hard to understand. You don't expect to go to the hairdresser and then have life changing injuries and scars.”

The travel worker says she first visited the salon a year earlier for a treatment after friends recommended it.

She opted for a balayage – lightening at the ends of the hair – and no product was applied to her scalp.

After the first successful appointment she felt confident returning to the stylist in May last year to have her entire head of hair lightened.

It is not clear if she had a patch test.

Ellie said: "I still had a bit of hair on my crown and round the sides but all of the underneath was gone. I'd gone from hair to the bottom of my back to nothing.

"The other thing that was devastating as well was that they had to take skin from my thigh so I knew I was going to be left with another scar that was even more visible.

"My self confidence just literally went to zero – I didn't leave my house unless it was for a hospital appointment.

"I am a pretty confident person in general and I do care about the way I look and it just completely took it away from me, I was devastated."

As well as ongoing check-ups on her scalp and microneedling to reduce the scar on her thigh, Ellie has had counselling to cope with the traumatic injury and its effect on her confidence.

Now that the hair around the skin graft on her scalp has slowly begun to regrow, she has been able to attach extensions to cover her “lifelong” bald patch.

Ellie now hopes to raise awareness about the severity of injuries you can suffer from bleach treatments.

She said: "The hair around it has started to grow a bit but it is really slow and weak.

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"I've had to get extensions put in to cover the bald patch and make it look like I've got fuller hair."

Signatures Hair Studio was contacted by The Sun but declined to comment. 

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