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What is Henna? Allergic reaction to henna tattoo

Finish the course and you may want to get a  tattoo . Since 2008 and also this year, the Spanish Medicines Agency alerts us about the Health Risks of temporary tattoos based on “Black Henna”(link is external)

What types of tattoos are there?

There are several types. On the one hand, there are permanent tattoos, with ink injected into the skin with needles, which require parental authorization. On the other hand, there are temporary tattoos, very popular during the summer, on beaches, fairs and other outdoor events. These are applied directly to the skin, they do not need needles. They are based on a coloring substance called henna .

What is Henna?

Henna is a powder that is extracted from the leaves and flowers of a bush. It is mixed with different products and a greenish-brown paste is formed. This paste should be in contact with the skin for as long as possible to achieve a chestnut-red temporary tattoo. It will last on the skin for about three or four days.

Do they have any risk?

In general, natural henna has few side effects. But, when it is mixed with other coloring substances, such as p-phenylenediamine or PPD, it can associate reactions. PPD is used to give it a glossier black hue and make it last longer, although its use on skin is prohibited. Henna that is mixed with these types of substances is called black henna .

What reactions can black henna produce?

May cause allergic skin reactions, even weeks after application. In the area of ​​​​the tattoo appears itching, redness, spots, blisters. It can even permanently lose skin color and cause scarring. On the other hand, people are sometimes sensitized forever. If there is later, at any time in life, an exposure to these substances (this colorant is found, for example, in clothing dyes and hair dyes), they can suffer from allergic contact dermatitis.

The reactions in these cases of dermatitis are sometimes severe and require urgent medical attention or even hospitalization.

Anyone who has a reaction with itching and blisters when putting a black dye on their skin should see a doctor.

How can I recognize black henna ?

  • The color of natural henna is greenish brown. If it is darker it is likely that dyes have been added.
  • Natural henna tattoo color is chestnut red. The black henna one is shiny black.
  • Natural henna needs more time in contact with the skin to get the color. Black henna can be removed after just one hour after its application.
  • Natural henna designs last about three or four days, a week at the most. The black henna , more than a week.

“Remember, Henna is not black”

Thus, due to the risk of allergic reactions, the characteristics of the distribution circuit of these products and the places where these tattoos are made, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) warns of the risks and advises against the realization of temporary tattoos of black color that are based on henna .

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