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Consumer Alert: Black Henna Tattoos Can Cause Serious Skin Reactions
Date:7/30/2008

CHICAGO, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Dermatologists are warning consumers that the harmless-looking, henna tattoos that are being sold everywhere from summer carnivals and open-air malls to cruise ships and vacation hot spots could 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. Temporary 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.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the direct application of PPD to the skin because of its known health risks. However, since the tattoo industry is not regulated, people are still getting black henna tattoos and exposing themselves to serious medical problems.

"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 po
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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