Black Henna sparks treatment spike

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The British Skin Foundation (BSF) says so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos (BHTTs) are resulting in an increase in reactions at dermatology clinics.

Parents hoping to treat their children to a temporary tattoo on holiday or at the funfair, along with party-goers at festivals may not realise the dangers of BHTT.

The majority of BHTT are not based on henna at all, but a substance called para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which is found in hair dyes. PPD is allowed for use in hair dye, but its use for skin contact products such as temporary tattoos is illegal in the European Union.

When PPD is used on the skin in this way it can cause blistering, painful skin burns and may even lead to scarring. It can also leave the person with a lifelong sensitivity to PPD, which increases the risk of a severe allergic reaction when using hair dye in the future.

A BSF survey found: 4 out of 10 dermatologists asked had seen patients with skin reactions to BHTTs; 1 in 20 dermatologists approached said that over 80 per cent of the BHTT reactions they had seen were in children aged under 16; Dermatologists asked confirmed that around half of the patients got a BHTT outside of the EU, where the legal status of PPD is not always clear; however the other half got a BHTT within the EU, with 27 per cent of these in the UK; About two-thirds of dermatologists approached have seen an increase in patients with reactions to hair dyes, many of whom have previously had a BHTT.

Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation Spokesperson reinforced the findings saying, “Black henna is well known to cause skin reactions and should be treated with caution, particularly in children.”