6 May 2016

UK doctors have warned against the dangers of black henna tattoos, following the case of a 10-year old boy who had an allergic reaction to a temporary tattoo he got on holiday in Spain.

Writing in BMJ Case Reports , the University of Sheffield authors report the rash had started 4 days after application of henna tattoo while the boy was in Spain.

He had redness, itching, and small inflammatory irritated spots on his partially crusted skin lesion, which followed the outline of the tattoo on his right upper arm. The surrounding skin was red, hot and painful to touch.

It is believed that the reaction was caused by paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a textile dye that is commonly added to henna to blacken the pigment and speed up drying time.

PPD is a known contact allergen, and can lead to a reaction based on its concentration and the length of time it is on the skin or scalp.

The boy was treated with antibiotics, corticosteroid cream, local anaesthetic and moisturising creams. The reaction site improved after 48 hours, with rapid resolution of the surrounding inflammation.

Due to their tendency to cause allergic reactions, the doctors warn that skin tattoos with black henna should be avoided.

Last Reviewed: 06/05/2016



‘Black Henna Tattoo’: art or allergen?. BMJ