Temporary tattoos can cause permanent damage

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As warmer weather approaches, both men and women will begin to show more skin. And what better way to beautify that skin than with an artistic temporary tattoo?

But beauty can be bad business: The Food and Drug Administration is now warning that some temporary tattoos marketed as “black henna” tattoos contain a potentially dangerous ingredient called p-phenylenediamine or PPD .

Unlike natural henna, a harmless reddish-brown extract of a flowering plant, PPD is derived from coal tar. Varying amounts of PPD can be found in black henna ink, depending on the tattoo parlor.

Some salons use pure PPD; others mix it with natural henna or other compounds. The ink is then painted or airbrushed onto the skin.

“You may see ‘black henna’ being used in places such as temporary tattoo kiosks on beaches, boardwalks and other vacation destinations, as well as in some ethnic or specialty stores,” the spokeswoman said. FDA, Tamara Ward. BNC News.

“Depending on where you are, however, there may be no one verifying that the artist is following safe practices or even knowing what may be harmful to consumers,” Ward said.

Adding PPD to tattoo ink makes the tattoo darker and more durable, but for some people the print can last a lifetime. According to a FDA press release.

“Just because a tattoo is temporary doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Dr. Linda Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. Skin reactions in some people may occur almost immediately, or up to three weeks after application.

“What we thought was harmless fun turned out to be a nightmare for us,” the father of a 5-year-old girl with a black henna tattoo told the FDA. “I hope that by telling people about our experience, I can help prevent this from happening to other unsuspecting children and parents.”

Another parent told the FDA that her teenage daughter’s back looked “like a burn victim, all puffy and raw” after getting a black henna tattoo. According to her daughter’s doctor, the teenager will have scars on her back for life.

Regret is also a growing phenomenon among people who get tattoos permanently. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 17% of people who get tattoos consider having them removed.

Follow Marc Lallanilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

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