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Direct application of henna to the skin to create a
temporary tattoo is a process known as mehndi. Henna is a plant-based coloring
that is approved in the United States only as a hair dye. It is not approved
for direct application to the skin.
The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has received reports of skin injury when henna products
are used to create temporary tattoos. The most common problem caused by henna
is a skin reaction (contact dermatitis) to the pigment in
the dye. Permanent loss of skin color (hypopigmentation) in the design of the
original tattoo has also been reported.
The risk of developing a severe
allergic reaction to henna increases after an episode
of contact dermatitis. For that reason, it is recommended that you avoid hair
dyes containing henna if you have had a previous problem with an allergic
reaction to henna in a temporary tattoo.
Your first henna tattoo
should be in a place where you can cover it if it lasts longer than you expect.
It is not a good idea try to remove your henna tattoo; let it naturally wear
off. Be very careful not damage your skin—do not scrub or pick at your
May 3, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
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North Kansas City Hospital.