FDA Warns Against Dangers of Henna Tattoos
While henna has often served as a safe decorative substitute to permanent tattoos, it can actually cause unsafe side effects. Henna is a popular form of body art primarily in India and the Middle East, dating back to ancient times. It is applied to the body to bring luck, joy, and beauty particularly in bridal ceremonies.
Today henna is accessible all over the world, providing a temporary design for all ages at fairs, beaches, beauty salons, and the like. The tattoo is applied to the surface of the skin with a small bottle or cone. The ink then dries and flakes off, leaving a stain that lasts for several days.
But just because it isn’t permanent does it mean henna is ok for your skin?
MedWatch, the FDA’s safety information and adverse side effects reporting program, has been informed of serious reactions to this seemingly harmless ink. In fact, the FDA has not approved henna for direct application to the skin, and has only legally authorized it to be used for hair dye.
The main issues with henna have been introduced through “black henna,” which unlike the red-brown “neutral henna,” is made from other plants altogether. This form of henna stains the skin quickly and creates a darker color. It often contains the chemical p-phenylenediamine, which can cause serious allergic reactions and even scarring. This can then lead into a life-long allergy triggered by other chemicals, especially those found in hair dye.
Unfortunately, blistering caused by “black henna” does not appear for 3 to 12 days after its initial application, so many artists are unaware of the traumas they are inflicting.
With increasing awareness of the possible allergic reactions and damage to the skin caused by “black henna,” it is encouraged to seek medical help as soon as problems arise. It is also advisable to rethink the spur-of-the-moment fun of a temporary tattoo, and think about its possible life-long effects.
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Sources: 1, 2, 3