Thursday, July 31, 2008

Black henna tatoos causing major skin problems

Those who attend state and county fairs and summer carnivals may have something new to look out for. Dermatologists warn that black henna tattoos might contain para-phenylenadiamine (PPD), a harmful chemical used to make the longer-lasting tattoos, which has been associated with a sudden increase in major skin problems, reports Newswise, a research-reporting service.

"Perhaps the most alarming issue we are seeing with black henna tattoos is the increase in the number of children -- even children as young as 4 -- who are getting them and experiencing skin reactions," says Sharon Jacob, an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "Kids make up a significant portion of the population that receives temporary tattoos, because parents mistakenly think they are safe since they are not permanent and are available at so many popular venues catering to families. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.”

Some henna artists are adding PPD (used commonly for black hair dye) into the henna mix, which turns the tattoos black and intensifies the tattoo, making it last for weeks compared to days when natural henna, right, is used. Leaves from the lawsonia inermis plant provide brown, green or red vegetable coloring in producing natural henna that is used in temporary tattoos. Direct application of PPD to the skin is prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration due to its known health risks -- including contact dermatitis, eczema, blistering and permanent scarring. "Each exposure to PPD re-challenges the immune system, so each time you get a black henna tattoo or use a hairdye that contains PPD, there is an increased risk of having a reaction," Jacob says. "Unless the artist can tell you exactly what's in the tattoo, don't get one." (Florida Dept. of Health photo)

1 comment:

Henna Muse said...

This is a wonderful article that finally makes a clear distinction between natural henna and that adulterated by PPD.

There are two mistakes I'd like to point out. Natural henna can last weeks just like black "henna." The difference is in the color. Natural henna will only color in the range of brown, red, and orange -not black. Also, natural henna cannot dye green. The henna paste itself can appear green because of the leaves it's made from, but it does not have the ability to dye things green.

The easiest way to tell if a henna tattoo is safe is to ask the artist what color the tattoo will be when the paste is first removed. Natural henna will be orange and take 1-3 days to deepen into brown. PPD laced henna will be black or brown right away.