Henna Tattoos Causing Problems

By: Mark Vaughn Email
By: Mark Vaughn Email

A popular tourist novelty is causing some controversy.

Bay County commissioners are considering putting some limits on henna temporary tattoos, especially popular with the Spring Break crowd.

Health experts say the temporary tattoos can cause permanent damage.

Henna tattoos were designed for those folks who don't want something permanent on their body.

Dr. Jason Newsom of the Bay County Health Department says, “The overwhelming majority of people believe there is no downside to these tattoos. They truly are temporary, that you're not at risk for anything bad happening to you."

But after health concerns over infections and scars from the popular tattoos, they could be on there last leg, or arm for that matter.

"The most commonly used additive is abbreviated PPD, and it has a dark color, when added to henna it makes it look like a black tattoo and it makes it hang around for 2 weeks or more. The downside is that that same additive PPD is the culprit in these reactions. It is what's causing the scarring," says Dr. Newsom.

Dr. Newsom brought the County Commission evidence from the state of Florida describing some permanent scars from the henna tattoos on children as young as 3 years old.

"First thing we've got to do is get the word out that these temporary tattoos are not completely harmless. There are side effects and some of the side effects are life long."

The county will look at the possibility of restricting the tattoos in Bay County, one option would be to set the minimum age at 18, and also requiring businesses to warn customers about the possible side effects.

Dr. Newsom says he wants vacationers to know that they could be leaving town with a dangerous souvenir.
Commissioners asked the county attorney to work with Dr. Newsom to draw up a draft ordinance for restricting the tattoos.

That ordinance will be voted on later.

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