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henna tattoo, explains that his arm started itching soon after getting the tattoo. After a week, when the itching hadn’t stopped, DeGonia told her son to try to scrub the tattoo painting off. But the problem only got worse. "His arm broke out into a pus-encrusted, inflamed and discolored sore in the form of the four-inch tattoo," DeGonia says.
Skin blisters and lesions following a black henna burn.
After more treatment, DeGonia says her son’s arm is healing, "but my son will have a scar, in the shape of this tattoo, for the rest of his life."
Contrary to traditional henna, which is a natural plant dye, black henna contains a chemical dye, often P-Phenylenediamine, or PPD, says Catherine Cartwright-Jones, a retired henna artist based in Ohio who is working to accumulate and disseminate accurate information of PPD use.
When applied to the skin, the chemicals can cause allergic reactions, resulting in blisters, oozing sores, intense itching or long-term scarring, like the one DeGonia’s son now has to live with.
The marks on the skin are the visible signs of a reaction to black henna. According to Cartwright-Jones, the dye can have far more serious side effects, such as kidney and liver damage and possibly cause cancer both for the artists and the clients.