Monday, May 27, 2013

FDA Issues Warning For Temporary Tattoos

With summer vacations just around the corner, and many people heading to the beach, music festivals, and the like, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns the public that marking your summer vacation with a temporary tattoos could put your health at risk.
Temporary tattoos, usually done with henna, are applied to the skin's surface and typically last from three to five days. Henna is a reddish-brown coloring made from a flowering shrub that grows in the regions of Africa and Asia. For centuries, people have used henna to dye skin, hair, and fingernails. Henna body art, sometimes known as mehndi, is still used today around the world to decorate the skin for cultural festivals and celebrations. Sounds harmless enough, right?

According to the FDA, just because a tattoo is temporary doesn't mean that it is risk free. Aside from a natural allergic reaction to true henna, “black henna” has hit the temporary tattoo market and is potentially harmful. Inks marketed as “black henna” may actually contain coal-tar hair dye containing p-phenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient that can cause dangerous skin reactions and one that is not legally permitted in cosmetics.

The FDA cites a number of cases where consumers have learned the risks of ‘black henna” the hard way:

The parents of a 5-year-old girl reported that she developed severe reddening on her forearm about two weeks after receiving a “black henna” temporary tattoo.
A 17-year-old girl’s skin became red and itchy after receiving a temporary tattoo on her lower back. Shortly after, the skin began to blister and the blisters filled with fluid.
Another 17-year-old, who had no reaction to red henna tattoos, did have a serve reaction to a “black henna” tattoo. Her mother reported that the girl’s skin looked, “the way a burn victim looks, all blistered and raw,” after a “black henna” tattoo was applied. The mother further reported that according to her daughter's doctor, the teenager will have permanent scarring.

No one can ever gauge the severity of any allergic reaction, but with well-documented cases why risk it? The FDA recommends that if you have a concern or reaction to a temporary tattoo, contact your health care professional immediately and the FDA asks that you also contact MedWatch at (800) 332-1088.

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