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Dye allergy 'may have killed girl'

A teenager who died after applying hair dye could have had an "exceedingly rare" allergic reaction to chemicals within the product.

Tabatha McCourt, 17, from Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, is said to have been dyeing her hair on Saturday night when she suffered a fatal fit. It is suspected she went into anaphylactic shock.

She was rushed to the town's Monklands General Hospital where she died a short time later. Police said a post-mortem examination had yet to be carried out but were not ruling out the possibility that the death was caused by a chemical in the dye.

A chemical called p-Phenylenediamine (PPD) has reportedly been suggested as a possible cause for the sudden reaction.

Emma Meredith, head of scientific research at the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association, explained that PPD is used in many hair dyes which are used to darken the hair, but she said it is not possible to conclude that it was to blame for Tabatha's allergic reaction until a post mortem has been carried out.

She said: "To have such an immediate and violent reaction to this or any other cosmetic product is exceedingly rare.

"Generally we see two different types of allergic reactions, one of which is delayed and often happens after a person has used a product more than once. It tends to be localised to the area of the body where the product is used and develops between 24 and 48 hours after it has been applied.

"Then there is the type of reaction that it appears Tabatha may have had, which comes on almost immediately and takes hold of the whole body. We don't know if Tabatha had any predisposition to allergies but any kind of reaction would be more likely in that case."

Dr Meredith urged consumers to check product instructions before use: "Many cosmetic products will advise customers to do an allergy test 48 hours before. It is important that any guidelines are followed. If they do have any kind of reaction they must phone the company for further advice."

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said the death was currently unexplained and that a post-mortem examination would take place in due course.

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