Wednesday, June 1, 2016

FDA Issues Warning For Henna

You may have spent this past weekend at the beach and participated in what has become a bit of tradition … the boardwalk and the boardwalk henna tattoo. Or maybe you’re heading to a music fest and can’t wait to go all out with a gorgeous and intricate henna tat to enhance that Boho chic. But, what looks so beautiful when it’s finished can quickly turn rather unattractive.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning the public that marking your summer fun with henna tattoos could put your health at risk. The question is why? Henna has been used since the time of Cleopatra. Henna body art, referred to as mehndi, is still used today around the world to decorate the skin for cultural festivals and celebrations. Sounds harmless enough, right? So what makes this beautifully hued past so dangerous now?

Real Henna is a reddish-brown coloring, and extracted from the leaves of the henna tree. When applied to the skin’s surface, it will typically last from three to five days. The henna tree is indigenous to the Middle East, Northern Africa and South Asia. The import of real Henna can be expensive to those whom are greedy. So, in order to increase profits “black henna” hit the American market place several years ago. Oh, you’ve heard of black henna and you’ve heard that it’s been around for centuries and you’ve heard that it is absolutely innocuous.

Well, you are correct if you’re walking in a Middle Eastern or Indian grocery store and the black henna is actually Indigo. The problem is that if that “black henna” is from the U.S. it is most likely not Indigo, but 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 emphasizes that an allergic reaction can occur with any substance, but there are case after case of severe allergic reactions to “black henna”. The FDA reports that reported cases usually include blistering at the tattoo site, which can be severe and can lead to scarring. What can you do to protect yourself? Well, probably don’t get a “black henna” tat in the first place or even a Henna on unless you know that you don’t have an allergy to Henna.

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 Henna or “black henna” tattoo, contact your health care professional immediately and the FDA asks that you also contact MedWatch at (800) 332-1088.

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