As Spring Break kicks into full swing, the Florida Department of Health is warning residents and visitors of the potential health hazards associated with black henna tattoos. The paste in black henna tattoos contains a toxic chemical found in black hair dye called para-phenylenediamine (PPD).
“When applied directly to the skin, the PPD found in black henna tattoos can produce serious adverse health effects in children and adults,” said Deputy Secretary for Health and Deputy State Health Officer for Children’s Medical Services Dr. Celeste Philip. “It is important to be aware of these dangers and take steps to avoid them. Always ask to see the ingredients of the paste before having a henna tattoo applied to your skin or your child’s skin.”
Natural brown henna tattoos use dried ground henna leaves, lemon or grapefruit juice, and botanical oil to create a temporary tattoo, but the PPD found in black henna paste is unsafe and is exempt from approval by the FDA. PPD can produce adverse health effects in children and adults. The general progression of symptoms is itching or burning, blistering, oozing, scab formation and, in some cases, permanent scarring in the shape of the tattoo design. Depending on the concentration of PPD in the paste and the severity of an individual’s allergy to PPD, symptoms may occur within a few hours or few weeks after receiving a black henna tattoo.
Immediately seek medical attention if symptoms of an allergic reaction present themselves.