When I had my henna tattoo on holiday, I had no idea there was a difference between black henna and real henna.
But when I became allergic to the Black Henna, the doctor said that there was no way I would have had the same reaction had it been real henna (obviously some people can be allergic to anything but it is less likely from a natural substance).
Black Henna contains chemicals (PPD’s) to enhance the black pigment in the tattoo so that it is a darker black (like a real tattoo) and the paste can contain illegal amounts within the dye. PPDs can cause serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis shock.
Please, please ensure that you do not go for black henna (or have a skin patch test first) but the real henna, see this link to the NHS website about the dangers and how to tell the difference between the two hennas.
5 things to do if you have had an allergic reaction to Black Henna
- If to hand, take an antihistamine tablet or medicine
- Go straight away to the doctors or to A&E, it will only get worse if you don’t get it treated.
- Do not put water on the affected area – Water will only make the dye penetrate the skin further
- Do not put anything on the skin until the doctor has seen you, this will irritate the skin further
- Make sure you go to a Doctors or A&E straight away and inform them that it is an allergic reaction (yes I know 5 is the same as 2 but it is very important to get seen.)
It seems a funny place to start but it’s where my life changed, so I feel like it is a good place to begin. The combination of holidays and tattoos doesn’t sound like a good one and it wasn’t for me.
Henna vs Permanent
Luckily I didn’t have a permanent tattoo (but it was on my mind and I didn’t know what tattoo I could live with forever) therefore I opted for a Black henna tattoo, that I could sport whilst on holiday and it would wash off in time for me to return to work.
I went for a nice rope pattern around the upper arm and as I was in my early 20’s had lovely toned arms, I thought I looked the nuts. It lasted the whole holiday and I even got to show my friends back at home.
After a couple of weeks the black henna tattoo could no longer been seen but arm started to itch in the exact same place.
A rash appeared in the exact same pattern of the rope henna tattoo. This took a few weeks to appear and was very itchy. I visited the doctors and they gave me some cream which didn’t help.
Another week went by and my arm had started to swell and another rash appeared across my whole body and my arm had start to weep.
I was then sent to A & E as nothing the doctors gave me was helping and luckily the nurse on duty was training in dermatology who spotted it was an allergic reaction to the Black henna tattoo. It took a few weeks to clear up with a Zinc and iodine application along with antihistamine and that was that. No more tattoos on my mind or body.
If you have been allergic to holiday henna tattoos head straight to A&E, as the allergy can escalate very quickly.
Let me know in the comments below whether you or someone you know has had an allergy.