FDA warns consumers about the dangers of temporary tattoos

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Spring break is right around the corner, as is summer vacation, which means you might be thinking about getting a temporary tattoo. After all, it’s temporary, so it’s harmless, right?

Not so fast. The Food and Drug Administration has issued a new health warning, saying temporary tattoos may pose certain health risks.

Temporary tattoos can last anywhere from three days to several weeks. Although they are not injected into the skin, they do carry some risks, said Dr. Linda Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors.

Katz said consumers are still at risk for allergic reactions, which can be severe and last even longer than the tattoo itself.

MedWatch, the FDA’s safety information and adverse event reporting program, has received numerous reports of serious and lasting reactions that consumers did not expect when they first got the temporary tattoo. . Problems include redness, blistering, oozing red lesions, loss of skin pigmentation, increased sensitivity to the sun, and even permanent scarring.

The FDA said some consumers should see a doctor after getting one of the tattoos, including emergency room visits. Sometimes these trips happened right after the tattoo was placed on the skin, and sometimes they happened weeks after the event.

Usually, temporary tattoos are done using henna, a reddish-brown coloring derived from a flowering plant. Modern henna is called “black henna” and is often used instead of traditional henna. Inks marketed as black henna can be mixed with several other ingredients – or it can be just a hair dye. The FDA said adding other ingredients to henna makes the tattoo look longer and darker.

The additional ingredient in black henna is often coal tar hair dye, which contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient that can cause dangerous skin reactions in some people, according to the FDA. The tattoo artist can use hair dye containing PPD themselves, but in any case, it is dangerous and difficult to tell which product is used.

Black henna tattoos can be sold on beaches, boardwalks or specialty shops. Some states have jurisdiction over professional cosmetology practices, but these vary from state to state. It is possible that regardless of the state in which you receive the tattoo, there is no approved board verifying that the artist is following safe and clean practices.

A 5-year-old girl experienced severe redness on her arm two weeks after getting a temporary black henna tattoo, while a 17-year-old girl experienced redness and itching that later blistered and filled. of liquid.

If you have an allergic reaction to a temporary tattoo, please contact FDA MedWatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Click for more information from the FDA.

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