Health Risks Associated With Temporary Tattoos, FDA Warning


According to a new report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, temporary tattoos, also known as “hennas,” carry more health risks than most people realize.

People often believe that because the tattoo is only temporary – anywhere from three days to several weeks – it won’t carry any long-term risks. Linda Katz, MD, MPH, director of the FDA’s Bureau of Cosmetics and Colors, said, “Just because a tattoo is temporary doesn’t mean it’s safe.”

Unlike typical tattoos, hennas are only applied to the surface of the skin, instead of being injected.

However, consumers have reported long-term reactions that often last longer than temporary tattoos. The reactions may start right after the tattoo or a few weeks later.

The FDA’s adverse event reporting program, called MedWatch, has received many reports from people who get temporary tattoos and experience problems, such as:

  • Blisters
  • Redness
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Raised red oozing lesions
  • Permanent scars

A few cases have even led to visits to emergency medical care.

Henna tattoos are becoming increasingly popular

Hennas were originally made from a flowering plant, which was ground into a paste, to dye skin, nails and wool. However, nowadays “black henna” contains more ingredients such as coal tar hair dye. The reason for adding these extra ingredients is to make the tattoos darker and longer lasting.

The coal tar hair dye often added to make black henna contains a substance called p-phenylenediaine (PDD). This ingredient can be very dangerous and cause serious skin reactions. It is currently illegal to add PDD to cosmetics, but there is no way to tell who will be affected.

Black henna can be very dangerous, and there aren’t many regulations on temporary tattooing in most parts of the United States. It is therefore possible that no one checks the quality or the risks associated with certain tattoo artists.

The Alabama Department of Public Health issued a similar warning a few years ago about the risks of temporary black henna tattoos.

One case involved a 5-year-old girl who got a temporary tattoo and then developed extremely severe redness two weeks later, her father said:

“What we thought was a harmless bit of fun ended up becoming a nightmare for us. I hope that by telling people about our experience, I can help prevent this from happening to other unsuspecting children and parents.

The girl’s mother added:

“At first I was a little upset that she got a tattoo without telling me. But when it turned red and itchy and later started to blister and the blisters filled with fluid, I was out. of me.

The mum added that as a nurse she is used to seeing all kinds of injuries, ‘but when it’s your own child it’s pretty scary’.

If you experience any reactions after getting a temporary tattoo, you should immediately contact your doctor and report it to MedWatch.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist


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