A few months ago when Tracy took her children for a trip to the coast, she didn’t imagine that a simple temporary tattoo would result in more trouble than it was worth.
“ My daughter who is about 9 asked to get one of those temporary henna tattoos that are offered on the beach. My 6 six-year-old of course joined in the fun. It was only a few days later that I noticed that my oldest daughter’s hand had formed blisters in the shape of the tattoo. Many trips to the hospital and a pricey dematologist later, she was able to get help. However her hand is scarred for life. I would really caution parents to be wary of the black henna used by some of the vendors, kids react differently and it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Tracy’s experience is one of many around the world. The Telegraph carried a story two years ago of Mary Bates, 16, who got a ‘black henna’ tattoo on her holiday in Turkey. What she didn’t know was that the solution also contained the chemical paraphenylenediamine (PPD). Like Tracy’s daughter, her tattoo began to it began to seep and swell. She too had the scars of which may remain with her for life.
How do you know if the henna you are applying is safe?
Real henna, which is generally safe to use, is an orange colour, with a red or brown tint to it. Pure/ real henna stains skin in some color between orange, red, burgundy, brown or coffee.
What you need to know about PPD.
The slang name for the Black Henna in Kenya which contains this PPD Chemical is Piko or Peako.
Black henna often contains the chemical p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), which gives the natural reddish-brown dye a black tint. It is also the main component in most hair dyes.
According to NHS.UK, When applied to the skin in the form of a black henna temporary tattoo, PPD can cause chemical burns and lead to allergic reactions.
Apart from the pain and possible scarring in reaction to a black henna tattoo, there is a real risk of becoming sensitised to PPD. This means that if you come into contact with PPD again in the future, even years later, you can have a very serious allergic reaction.
The reaction can lead to contact dermatitis and may mean that your skin is more susceptible to reacting to other PPD products, such as hair dye, in the future.
How do you know if what you see is “PPD Black Henna”?
Hennapage gives the following pointers:
PPD paste is jet black.
Before you put any henna on your skin, ask how long it takes to stain and how long it lasts. If the answers are “just an hour or two” and “a week or more”, it’s PPD.
You can also ask what colour it will give. If the answer is “pure black”, it’s PPD.
Always ask to see an ingredients list. If the artist can’t supply one, or you don’t like what you see, walk away.