(This article contains graphic images)
Temporary black henna tattoos containing PPD are a health hazard and can cause permanent scarring, experts warn, after a seven-year-old suffered severe chemical burns.
Madison Gulliver, 7, and her brother Sebastian, 9, were holidaying with their parents at a plush hotel in Hurghada, Egypt. Their mother, however, suddenly fell ill with a gallbladder infection. The children were very good and stayed by their mother’s side in the hospital to keep her company.
For being good, dad treated them to a temporary black henna tattoo at the in-house salon, just for a bit of fun. Sebastian complained of itchiness, so his pattern was washed off immediately. Only after arriving home in England did Madison complain that her tattoo was itchy.
Her pretty-looking tattoo that ran from her fingers to her elbow progressed from a red rash, after trying to wash it off, into erupting blisters.
“It started to blister so we started looking on the internet about black henna tattoos and that’s when we realized all the worrying things.”
Martin, 50, Madison’s father, who is a manager for Royal Mail, said, “I think it’s partly my fault because I didn’t know about it, but also the fault of the salon because they are using dangerous chemicals on children.”
Steroid creams were prescribed by doctors for application, but when the blisters did not subside, Madison was rushed to A&E, and later transferred to Salisbury District Hospital burns specialists.
Her dad said: “We started to panic. They had never seen it before, and each time we went in they were trying different things but it was getting worse and worse.”
A high level of the chemical called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, which is added to henna, making the tattoos appear darker, was found in the blisters on Madison’s arm.
“Medics at a specialist burns unit had to cut them off. They decided to treat the skin by removing the blisters, so they could access the burned skin underneath,” said Martin. “She is potentially scarred for life after getting a black henna tattoo.”
“They thought they would be able to soak the blisters and rub them off, but that wasn’t possible as they were so thick, so they had to cut them off.”
But, dad says Madison was very brave, “She wanted to see what they were doing so we couldn’t get her to look away, she was really good and kept saying ‘you’ve missed one.’”
The hotel in Hurghada apologized and said they’ve stopped offering the tattoos.
Madison’s ordeal comes after similar cases have been reported recently.