Warning against temporary tattoos

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Children and festival-goers are being warned of the dangers of so-called “black henna” temporary tattoos, after research found an increase in skin reactions.

The survey by the British Skin Foundation showed that 40 per cent of dermatologists had treated patients with reactions, and more than 80 per cent of them were children under 16.

The majority of “black henna” temporary tattoos are not based on henna at all, but a substance called para-phenylenediamine (PPD) found in hair dyes. PPD is allowed in hair dyes, but its use for temporary tattoos is illegal in the European Union (EU).

When PPD is used on the skin in this way it can cause blistering, burns, scarring and a lifelong sensitivity to hair dyes.

Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, said: “Black henna is well known to cause skin reactions and should be treated with caution, particularly in children.”

The survey also found that around half of the patients got their tattoos within the EU, with 27 per cent of these in the UK. They are often available to buy at fairs and festivals and in shops and on stalls abroad.

A reaction to a "black henna" temporary tattoo.

A reaction to a "black henna" temporary tattoo.

Dr Christopher Flower, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, said: “Having a “black henna” temporary tattoo presents a significant risk of a very nasty adverse reaction to the tattoo itself.

“This summer, parents will want to keep their children safe by steering clear of them.”

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