The harmless looking henna tattoos, which are being sold everywhere from summer carnivals to open-air malls can cause major skin problems, dermatologists have warned.
The experts say that the henna tattoos can contain a harmful chemical known as para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, used to create longer-lasting black henna tattoos. Notably, PPD has been associated with a rash of major skin problems.
At the American Academy of Dermatology's Summer Academy Meeting 2008 in Chicago, dermatologist Sharon E. Jacob, MD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics and medicine (dermatology) at the University of California, San Diego, discussed the dangers of black henna tattoos and how dermatologists are treating an increasing number of patients, including very young children, with skin problems from allergic reactions to PPD.
Natural henna used for temporary tattoos is made from leaves of the lawsonia inermis plant, which provides a vegetable coloring that comes in shades of brown, green or red.
emporary coloring (dyeing) of the skin with natural henna is considered harmless and only lasts for a few days. To increase the intensity of the tattoo beyond which can be attained with natural henna color and to prolong the longevity of the temporary tattoo from days to weeks, some henna tattoo artists are adding PPD (commonly also used for black hair dye) into the henna mix. This turns the tattoo black.
"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 four - who are getting them and experiencing skin reactions," said Dr. Jacob.
"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," she added.