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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  • by Prometheus Location: On a rock on Jun 7, 2011 at 07:25 PM
    To the people saying that "black henna" is not henna, It does not matter. If people are advertising it as HENNA then people need to be warned about all henna so they can do their own research to find out for themselves. And also it is not only "black henna" that is dangerous, there are many other forms. Some of which are illegal in the US but still make their way to the states. If you really care you can read up on it here. http://www.angelfire.com/ak/anakee/mehndi3.html
  • by Lisa Brandenburg Location: Kentucky on Nov 10, 2008 at 10:10 AM
    You should distiniguish the harmful material in your article as a tattoo with PPD, not henna itself. Most reputable henna artists do not (with emphasis) use PPD in their henna. Black henna is not to be considered henna at all but is a substance with temporary tattoos which contains PPD in harmful concentrations. To avoid injury from temporary tattoos, persons should get natural red/brown colored temporary henna tattoos and not the black kind. Most henna artists are very knowledgeable, skilled, tatented, and create their own henna paste from natural ingredients only such as henna (natural dried and ground leaves), lemon juice, sugar, and essential oil. It is, when mixed and applied traditionally, considered very safe for most people.
  • by Luna Location: Ohio on Nov 5, 2008 at 02:15 PM
    Please go here: http://www.hennapage.com/henna/ppd/index.html for very clear information on the difference between real, safe henna and the artists who use it, and PPD "black henna", which is not henna at all. Artists using real henna are very concerned about people being harmed this way, and want to help educate people in any way we can. This is best done with complete, factual information. Without that, it is all too easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
  • by Victoria Location: Minnesota on Nov 5, 2008 at 11:20 AM
    This is horrific. Black henna is not henna and should not be confused with henna. Henna is safe. PPD slingers should not be hawking their wares. It's dangerous. Henna is not a temporary tattoo, but an art form in itself. It is steeped in tradition and spans many centuries and is found in many cultures. Restrict PPD users, but leave henna alone. You can easily identify henna by the greenish tinge in the brown paste. It leaves an orange stain that changes to brown after a day or so. You must leave henna paste on for hours. PPD is black, requries a short period of time to dye the skin and creates a black design. Avoid anything that claims to be colored or black henna. Those products are not henna.
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