WARNING: Graphic image

Children could be left with blisters, painful skin burns and even permanent scarring if they get black henna tattoos this summer – experts have warned.

The British Skin Foundation has released images of horrific allergic reactions to warn parents to steer their young ones clear of temporary tattoos.

Henna is a natural plant-based dye but many temporary tattoos, claiming to be henna-based, actually contain a substance called phenylenediamine (PPD).

PPD is found in many hair dyes but is illegal for use in skin contact products such as temporary tattoos within the European Union (EU).

This is because when PPD is used on the skin it can cause horrific reactions and leave the user with lifelong sensitivity to PPD – which increases the risk of severe allergic reaction to hair dye in the future.

News Shopper: Don't risk having a black henna tattoo

Director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) Dr Christopher Flower said: “The message is clear – having a black henna temporary tattoo presents a significant risk of a very nasty adverse reaction to the tattoo itself.

“It also increases the risk of either not being able to use most hair dyes in the future or having a bad reaction to them if the warnings are ignored.

“Most importantly, parents will want to safeguard their children this summer by steering clear of so-called black henna temporary tattoos.”

Consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesman Dr Anjali Mahto added: “Black henna is well known to cause skin reactions and should be treated with caution, particularly in children.”


The BSF found four in every 10 dermatologists had seen patients with reactions to temporary henna tattoos, whilst one in 20 of these medical professionals said more than 80 per cent of these patients were under 16.

Around half of these patients got their temporary tattoo outside of the UK, whilst 27 per cent got the fake ink in the UK.

Meanwhile, two thirds of dermatologists had seen an increase in patients with reactions to hair dyes – and many of these people had previously had a temporary tattoo.