FDA Warns Henna Tattoos May Not Be Safe

Just in time for all the college kids to start hitting the beach, the FDA has issued a warning about the safety of Henna tattoos.  The culprit is the black ink that is now being used is actually a chemical that is often used to color hair.  In the past, Henna ink was brownish – red and derived from plants, which made them relatively safe.


Raised blisters and lesions such as these are being reported from black henna temporary tattoos

Raised blisters and lesions such as these are being reported from black henna temporary tattoos

The recent changes to the formulas of many Henna tattoo artists’ ink can actually have quite negative side effects.  Some of them include raised lesions to the skin, blisters, redness, and in some cases; loss of pigmentation and even permanent scarring can occur from a temporary tattoo created with black Henna ink.  In some cases, these effects will show up right away, but in other cases, it could take weeks to experience these symptoms.  Severe cases have been reported to require emergency treatment.

Some of the reports to the FDA state occurrences of blisters that filled with fluid and areas that looked like burns, with severe redness and sore, irritated skin.  In some cases, the tattoo is long gone, but the marks from the tattoo can still be clearly seen.

Originally, the black ink was meant to provide this temporary tattoo option with a crisper, darker and longer lasting effect.  It was meant to make the tattoos more attractive, but there is a chemical in the black dyes called p-phenylenediamine.  The chemical is prohibited when used in cosmetics and products that touch the skin, but since regulations and laws regarding beachfront kiosks vary from state to state, it’s likely that the formulas are not monitored.  There have been many reports of these effects, and the FDA is urging anyone who has had these problems to report them to the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts believe that many people can avoid these issues by taking a little bit of time to find out what the Henna ink is made of.  If the tattoo artist can’t say, or doesn’t know, it might be a good idea to go on to the next one.  It’s also a good idea to avoid any black temporary tattoo ink as it is possible to experience the negative side effects listed.

While the traditional Henna tattoos are considered to be generally safe, they can cause allergic reactions in some people, so those considering getting one should be aware of any allergies that they might have.  Those with skin allergies may be more likely to experience adverse reactions than others.  Red henna has been safely used for thousands of years by most.  It has been used to color everything from fabric to hair and skin.  The black henna that many market might not even contain henna.

They look fun and pretty, but for some people, black henna tattoos can not only become painful and itchy irritations, but they can also cause long term damage to the skin.  So, Spring Breakers should use caution when considering getting a henna tattoo and make sure that they know what is in the stain that’s being put onto their skin.

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Written by Heather Nelson

Heather Nelson graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. She has an impressive portfolio as her works have been previously featured in several health journals and local newspapers in the Sunshine State. She takes health reporting to a new level with factual relation to what readers want and need to know . Having spent the last decade working all over the Internet as a freelancer writer, she is ecstatic that she has the opportunity to work with the Newhealthalert team to bring the best news, commentary, and information to the public on a global level.

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