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

rtion of the population that receives temporary tattoos, because parents mistakenly think they are safe since they are not permanent and are available at so many popular venues catering to families. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth."

Dr. Jacob noted that to date, there have been hundreds of case reports of allergic contact dermatitis from black henna tattoos, with reactions ranging from mild eczema to blistering and even permanent scarring. The first sign of a reaction is typically redness and itching, followed by bumps, swelling and then blisters. Topical steroids can be used to stop the reaction, but Dr. Jacob explained that whether or not any scarring occurs depends on the depth and severity of the inflammation.

In addition, some people may become sensitized to PPD from just one exposure -- meaning that the immune system becomes prepared to remember the chemical to which it has been exposed or a chemical with a similar structure. When this happens, a person can develop a lifelong sensitivity to PPD and an allergy can cause a cross reaction to other compounds, including certain medications. For example, use of some heart, hypertension and diabetes medications, and even some anesthetics used in topical hemorrhoid preparations or oral gels, can lead to allergic reactions in people previously sensitized to PPD.

"Each exposure to PPD re-challenges the immune system, so each time you get a black henna tattoo or use a hair dye that contains PPD, there is an increased risk of having a reaction," said Dr. Jacob. "Many people are sensitized to PPD, but don't have a reaction to it. However, each time you are exposed to black henna, you increase your risk of developing a lifelong allergy to it."

Dr. Jacob advised if one does choose to obtain a henna tattoo, only do so if you can be certain that only vegetable henna is used, not PPD-adulterated henna. "Unless the artist can tell you exactly what's in the tattoo, don't get one," said
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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