Henna Tattoos - Dangerous beauty?

Source: MSN.com, Health “Diseases and Condition”

For thousands of years, henna has served as a temporary way to add intricate and beautiful designs to the human body in North Africa, Egypt, India, and parts of the Middle East.

Body art created with pure henna, (an ink, which is actually paste made from the dried leaves of a henna plant) starts out a dark brown/black color and is applied with a brush or squeeze bottle. After the henna paste completely dries, it falls off; leaving behind a stain of the design which will lasts about two weeks. Skin allergies to pure henna are uncommon.

However, as interest in henna body art grows in Western cultures, so do short-cuts and "improvements" to this ancient art. Street vendors and temporary booths found at concerts and summer festivals offer long-lasting tattoos made with "black henna"-henna with the addition of the chemical Para-Phenylene Diamine (PPD). While longer lasting designs sounds good in theory, PPD can cause contact dermatitis and those lovely swirly designs are not nearly as attractive when rendered in oozing, swollen red blisters!

And if the oddity of a raised rash in an ornate design isn't bad enough, just one reaction to PPD can mean the sufferer could have an allergic reaction to even the slightest contact with the chemical for life. PPD can be an additive in: printer ink, hair dyes, photographic products, and black clothing and can cross-react with chemicals found in some medications for diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

So while the advertisement might say that henna tattoo is temporary, it's best to err on the side of caution and make sure you know what kind of henna is being applied to you or your child's body. The ramifications could be long lasting.