A hairdresser was horrified when her nose collapsed after decades of breathing in minute hair clippings.
|This image shows Edwina Phillipson, 51, after she had the operation to repair her nose. The hairdresser says a hole opened up in her septum after decades of breathing in human hairs
Edwina Phillipson, 51, from Northumberland, says tiny fragments of hair lodged themselves in the skin inside her nose.
This caused an infection that eventually caused a hole to open through her septum.
After 35 years of being exposed to the professional hazard the mother-of-three had to undergo an operation to rebuild it using cartilage taken from her right ear.
Edwina, who has taken to wearing a surgical mask in her salon in an effort to stop the problem, has issued a warning to others in the hair industry to protect their noses while they work.
Mrs Phillipson, who runs her own unisex salon in Newbiggin-by-the Sea, said: 'I work for myself now so I can wear a mask.
'People get used to it once you explain the reason why. So now my customers come in and they are quite happy to accept that I wear a mask while cutting hair.
'But in the past when I have asked employers if I could wear a mask they have said no because it doesn't look good for business.
'Employers have got to allow their employees to protect themselves, otherwise they will open themselves up to legal action.
'They are running a huge risk by not giving people that option. Paying for masks might eat into overheads but at what price do you put on your health?'
Mrs Phillipson's problems began 12 years ago when her nose began to get irritated from hairs in the air at work.
Scratching the area made the problem worse, as it created an open wound which was ripe for infection and would then attract more hairs.
Mrs Phillipson, who lives with her partner in Newbiggin, said: 'It became a vicious cycle. It ended up at the stage where I had a hole which went right through my septum.
|Edwina's nose before it collapsed. She now wears a mask to protect her rebuilt nose and has warned others in her profession of the dangers
'It caused horrendous problems with my sinuses, headaches, breathing difficulties, and the fact that the wound was never closed meant there was always a raw edge somewhere. It was really very painful.
'As a hairdresser you're working with tiny clippings of short hair so you end up hoovering them up with your nose inadvertently.
'It's not just the hair, it's the dead skin cells, gel on people's hair and other particles they bring in with them.
'When I went to see the doctor I was told I only had a couple of options - either hang up my scissors or wear a surgical mask.'
A fortnight ago Mrs Phillipson underwent surgery at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital to have surgery on her nasal septum.
Mrs Phillipson said: 'What they have had to do to repair the hole in my nose is they have taken cartilage out of my right ear and put it into my nose.
'Because it's a delicate operation and they needed skin on the inside of my nose to pull over the graft, they have had to reduce the size of my nose, which meant breaking it and filing it.
'It's incredibly painful. But I'm thrilled with what they have done for me.
'I had no choice because eventually the hole would increase in size and my septum would have fallen out.
'I wear the blue surgical masks at the moment, but even them, I have discovered, let the hairs through. I'm going to have a look at getting better fitting masks for fine particles.'
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