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I went to the barber to lighten up, now I have a permanent bald spot after needing a skin graft

A WOMAN who went to the hairdresser to get lighter hair has left a permanent bald spot after undergoing emergency treatment.

Ellie Swain suffered horrific chemical burns that caused the tissue on her scalp to die.

Ellie Swain went to the hairdresser to get lighter hair but ended up with a permanent bald spot

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Ellie Swain went to the hairdresser to get lighter hair but ended up with a permanent bald spotPhoto credit: Kennedy News
Ellie had to have a skin graft on her scalp (image after) where the tissue was rotting

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Ellie had to have a skin graft on her scalp (image after) where the tissue was rottingPhoto credit: Kennedy News

The 24-year-old required a skin graft covering most of the back of her head.

Ellie claims she felt a burning sensation on her head minutes after a hairdresser applied bleach to Signatures Hair Studio in Crawley, West Sussex, in May 2021.

She said: “After about 10-15 minutes I started to feel a burning sensation and eventually I got up and basically asked her to wash it off.

“My whole head felt like it was on fire. When she took the plastic off, it was like opening an oven door—steam just rose out of my head.

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“When she washed it off my hair was light yellow and everything was fried and then she put on a different color to try to get rid of the yellowness.

“After about five minutes I told her you need to take that off, my head was literally on fire and my hair was fried and damaged.”

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

The next morning, her previously long, healthy locks had to be trimmed to shoulder length because they were so damaged.

Ellie, from Sutton, Surrey, said: “About three or four days after that [getting my scalp bleached] My scalp started blistering and oozing with pus.

“I went to the doctor and was prescribed antibiotics because I had an infection. I just thought that hopefully the antibiotics would work and everything would be fine.

“About a week went by and then my head started to basically go black and I started to lose the feeling, it was really numb.

“I went to A&E and they tried to clean the area because my hair was basically matted from 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 it shaved off, so they prescribed more antibiotics.

“But a few days after that, blood was spurting out of my head and I was losing hair, so I called 911 and they told me I needed to go to the hospital right away.”

Things took a turn for the worse at the hospital when doctors discovered the true extent of Ellie’s condition.

They shaved her head and “revealed a four-inch by three-inch black burn that covered almost the entire back of her head.”

Ellie said: “The surgeon came in and said because I had lost the feeling that the skin was all dead and I had no choice but 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

Ellie was transferred to the Burns Unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where she underwent a skin graft on June 17.

Skin was removed from her thigh to replace the rotting tissue on her scalp, meaning she can no longer grow hair there.

Ellie said: “I will never get any growths on the skin graft part because my hair follicles have been completely killed.

“That’s hard to understand. You don’t expect to go to the hairdresser and then have life-changing injuries and scars.”

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

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

After the first successful appointment, she was confident to return to the stylist last May to have her entire head of hair lightened.

It’s not clear if she had a patch test.

Ellie said: “I still had a bit of hair on my crown and sides but everything underneath was gone. I had gone from hair to the bottom of my back to nothing.

“The other thing that was also devastating was that they had to remove skin from my thigh so I knew I was going to leave another scar that was even more visible.

“My confidence literally went to zero – I wouldn’t leave my house unless it was a hospital appointment.

“I’m a pretty confident person in general and I care about how I look and it just took it completely, I was devastated.”

Along with ongoing scalp exams and microneedling to reduce the scar on her thigh, Ellie received counseling to deal with the traumatic injury and the impact it was having on her confidence.

Now that the hair around the skin graft on her scalp is starting to grow back, she has been able to add extensions to cover her “lifelong” bald spot.

Ellie is now hoping to raise awareness of the seriousness of the injuries you can suffer from bleaching treatments.

She said: “The hair around it has started to grow a bit but it’s really slow and weak.

“I had to have extensions put in to cover the bald spot and make it look like I had fuller hair.”

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

Ellie's hair before it was shaved off revealed the true extent of her injuries

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Ellie’s hair before it was shaved off revealed the true extent of her injuriesPhoto credit: Kennedy News
Doctors shaved Ellie's head and

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Doctors shaved Ellie’s head and ‘discovered a four inch by three inch black burn’Photo credit: Kennedy News
Ellie will forever have to wear extensions in her head because hair doesn't grow where she needed a skin graft

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Ellie will forever have to wear extensions in her head because hair doesn’t grow where she needed a skin graftPhoto credit: Kennedy News

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5278848/hairdresser-bleach-permanent-bald-patch-skin-graft/ I went to the barber to lighten up, now I have a permanent bald spot after needing a skin graft

Sarah Y. Kim

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