Henna tattoo on hand.
Credit: Georgy Dzyura/Shutterstock

Putting on temporary tattoos should be a fun thing, but after you see pictures of the chemical burns from a black henna tattoo that one girl is living with, you might reconsider whether it’s worth it. While on vacation with her family, 7-year-old Madison Gulliver got a tattoo at the hotel spa as a reward for being so well-behaved. Everything seemed to be fine at first.

When the family got back to the U.K., she noticed that some of the spots were raised. When it started to itch, she washed off the tattoo, her dad said. Gulliver explained,”We noticed there was a small patch on the top of the tattoo that was raised but we couldn’t see any redness. The next morning the whole tattoo was starting to get itchy, so we washed it off which revealed a rash in the outline of the tattoo.”

The blisters from the rash had to be removed in a burn unit at the hospital, after trying various creams and ointments. She’ll have to see scar specialists to take care of the reminder left by the chemicals in the fake henna. Her mother said that the hotel claims that it wasn’t their henna, but Madison’s skin that caused the problem. Right now, she still has painful blisters from her fingers to her elbow.

Henna tattoos shouldn’t hurt like that!

Temp tats are supposed to be fun. However, black henna contains P-pheylenediamine — or PPD — which is a toxic chemical found in hair dyes and can chemically burn the skin. A henna tattoo should be all natural — made from henna leaves or lemon and grapefruit juice. Madison’s parents admit they had no idea about the dangers of the black henna ink, though the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. strongly warns against the temporary tattoos. A lot of cheapie temporary tattoos are labeled “henna” but they’re really hair dye.

Turns out, kids are burned all the time by fake henna.

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Dr. Linda Katz, director of Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors said in a statement, “Just because a tattoo is temporary it doesn’t mean that it is risk free.

So the next time you’re on vacation somewhere and want to spring for some temporary body art, beware. And maybe sure your “henna” is actually henna.