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Department Encourages Black Henna Tattoo Safety

By Florida Department of Health, Office of Communications

March 18, 2016

Florida Health Logo

March 18, 2016



Communications Office
(850) 245-4111

Tallahassee, Fla.—As visitors and residents enjoy their leisure time in Florida, the Department of Health is encouraging everyone to be mindful of the potential risks of black henna tattoos. The paste in some black henna tattoos contains a toxic chemical called para-phenylenediamine (PPD). PPD, an ingredient often found in black hair dye, can produce adverse health effects in both children and adults when applied directly to the skin.

“As Spring Break comes and goes and we see an increase in black henna tattoos, the department wants all residents and visitors to be aware of their potential health hazards,” said Interim State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip. “Take precaution to avoid the dangers of PPD exposure and always ask to see the ingredients of the paste before having a black henna tattoo applied.”

Natural brown henna tattoos use dried ground henna leaves, lemon or grapefruit juice, and botanical oil to create a temporary tattoo, but the PPD found in black henna paste is unsafe and is exempt from approval by the FDA. The general progression of symptoms is itching or burning, blistering, scab formation, and in some cases, permanent scarring in the shape of the tattoo design. Depending on the concentration of PPD in the paste and the severity of an individual's allergy to PPD, symptoms may occur within a few hours or few weeks after receiving a black henna tattoo.

Immediately seek medical attention if symptoms of an allergic reaction present themselves. To help prevent future cases, please electronically report allergic reactions to the department via the Injury Report Form on the department website at

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